“It changes the timeframe for him,” said Anshel Pfeffer, a columnist at the left-leaning Haaretz daily and Netanyahu biographer. “It doesn’t mean he’s going to give up. He’s not going to give up. He’s incapable of giving up.”

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu watched from the sidelines Thursday as the government that toppled him after 12 years in power passed a national budget, dealing a major blow to his hopes of a swift return to the country’s top office, the AP reports.

The man whose shadow loomed so large for so long over Israel, whose rule sparked both mass protests and cult-like devotion, has been relegated to the backbenches as opposition leader, far from the levers of power and exposed to serious corruption charges.

The first budget to be passed in three years, during which a prolonged period of political gridlock brought four divisive elections, was a stress test for Israel’s fractious coalition government.

“It changes the timeframe for him,” said Anshel Pfeffer, a columnist at the left-leaning Haaretz daily and Netanyahu biographer. “It doesn’t mean he’s going to give up. He’s not going to give up. He’s incapable of giving up.”

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