Haaretz Analysts Examine the Long and Winding Road to Israel's New Coalition

Aluff Benn writes that while Likud-Beiteinu took a blow at the ballot box, Netanyahu managed to form a coalition that will fulfill his goal of preventing a Palestinian state once and for all, while Yossi Verter points out that the PM's real challenges begin with distributing the few portfolios left to his own ministers.

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Since the outcome of Israel's election on January 23 that put 53 new politicians in the Knesset’s 120 seats, including the brand new Yesh Atid party, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been struggling to form a coalition. His Likud party's joint ticket with Yisrael Beiteinu won far less seats than expected, with a total of 31.

Despite receiving a staggering blow from voters at the ballot box, writes Aluf Benn, Netanyahu managed to form a coalition that suits his ultimate goal: preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state once and for all. By both distracting the world with talks of attacks on Iran and Syria, and by keeping his allies in strategic government positions, the new Netanyahu government will be able to reach its goal of one million Jews settled in the West Bank.

Amos Harel emphasizes the importance of the composition of two forums – the cabinet and the smaller Forum of Seven (Septet) – in determining the next government's most critical decisions regarding diplomacy and national security. Presumed incoming Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon will bring both experience and hawkishness to issues of security, Harel writes, while incoming Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is more moderate on both Iran and the peace process.

The battle over the Education Ministry – still being fought on Monday night - expresses hope, Or Kashti argues, that in the fight between Likud's incumbent Gideon Sa'ar and Yesh Atid challenger Shay Piron, Sa'ar will fall. According to Kashti, Sa'ar failed in his first term at the position, as he focused almost exclusively on raising achievement levels, with the main casualty being the quality of the education.

After the dust from the coalition negotiations has settled, writes Yossi Verter, Netanyahu will get no respite and must face his next real test: distributing the remaining portfolios - the crumbs - to his Likud MKs. Having been forced into creating a government with both Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi by Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, Netanyahu is left with very few ministerial portfolios to give to the masses of Likud candidates who desire them.

A newly-formed government without the ultra-Orthodox will force the community to face drastic changes, writes Yair Ettinger, as the Haredim have consistently used their powerful positions in the interior, health, housing, and finance ministries to draft legislation that is both beneficial and appealing to their communities.

The Knesset. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

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