Netanyahu Could Form Minority amid Coalition Impasse

Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.(Photo: ActiveStills.org)

Recently re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering forming a minority government, an unprecedented move in Israeli politics.

Since Israel’s general election on 9 April, Netanyahu has been engaged in coalition talks with a number of right-wing political parties.

Yet after over a month of discussions, and having asked for a two-week extension to the deadline to form a government, the newly re-elected prime minister is struggling to bridge the divides between the various factions that he had hoped would make up his ruling coalition.

Netanyahu was anticipating that, by bringing the two ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ), the Union of Right-Wing Parties (URWP), Avigdor Lieberman’s hawkish Yisrael Beiteinu party and centrist Kulanu party together, he could form a 65-seat ruling coalition, four seats over the 61 needed to form a majority government in the 120-seat Knesset.

However, due to the increased strength of each of these parties compared to their 2015 election performances, many have become emboldened and made increasingly stringent demands in return for their support.

Against this backdrop, sources within Netanyahu’s Likud party today revealed that the prime minister is considering forming a minority government of 60 seats, without Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu.

This would be an unprecedented move in Israeli politics; though minority governments have previously existed, this has historically been the result of coalition partners withdrawing their support for the government later in the Knesset term.

The Times of Israel notes that, even if unprecedented, forming a minority government is not impossible.

Speaking yesterday, Netanyahu appeared to lament the difficulties he has faced during the coalition talks, accusing the various factions of “making impossible demands”.

If Netanyahu fails to form a coalition by 29 May, the task could be assigned to Gantz. If he cannot form a government – a real possibility given his apparent refusal to work with the Arab-Israeli parties and the poor election performance of the left-wing parties – Israel could face new elections.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

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