Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday night took coalition negotiations down to the wire, presenting his new proposed government to President Reuven Rivlin with just 90 minutes to go before the deadline to do so.
Netanyahu and his Likud party scored an impressive victory in the national elections that took place six weeks ago. But that’s how long it took the incumbent leader to maneuver the bickering over ministerial appointments and narrow political concerns and bring together enough of the fractious Knesset to form a majority coalition.
In the end, Netanyahu managed to pull together a coalition of just 61 out of 120 Knesset seats, the narrowest possible majority.
The parties in his coalition are his own Likud, the centrist Kulanu, right-wing Jewish Home, and the two ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism.
It is a decidedly right-wing government in regards to national security and the peace process, but there are deep differences over economic and social issues. For one, both Kulanu and Jewish Home are unhappy with the massive government payouts to the ultra-Orthodox, most of whom don’t serve in the army. But those payouts were part of the coalition agreements Netanyahu signed with Shas and United Torah Judaism.
Whether or not those issues will ultimately lead to another early election remains to be seen, but one thing is certain – Netanyahu’s new coalition is far less stable than many had hoped.
That is particularly disappointing given the strong right-wing showing in the most recent elections. With at least 67 Knesset seats filled by either right-wing or center-right lawmakers, voters were expecting a far broader coalition.