Interactive: the five contradictory deals Benjamin Netanyahu needs to strike for his coalition

The deadline is next Wednesday, May 29, for the competing demands of five right-wing Israeli political parties to be settled


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embarked on Wednesday on yet another round of meetings with the leaders of the five right-wing and religious parties who are expected to be members of his new coalition.

With one week left to the deadline for swearing in his fifth government, Likud’s negotiators were still far from finalising coalition agreements with any of the partners.


The magic numbers

There are 120 seats in the Knesset, which means a coalition will need at least 61 votes to form the next Israeli government.

35 seats

held by Likud, the party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (pictured). It means he needs at least 26 more to command a Knesset majority.
What do his future partners demand? Pick one and read more

Tap a button above

The main obstacle remaining is Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman’s demand that he be appointed defence minister with greater authority to decide on policy — he resigned last year over Mr Netanyahu’s decision to allow Qatari money into Gaza as part of the ceasefire agreement with Hamas, and does not want this to happen again.

He also wants the bill on drafting Yeshiva students into the military prepared in the previous Knesset to be passed by the new coalition without any changes.

But Mr Lieberman’s insistence on an unaltered draft law runs counter to the Charedi parties, United Torah Judaism and Shas, who want the bill to change, particularly on the quota of yeshiva students who will enlist in the military, and the penalties imposed if the quotas are not met.

With the other two parties, the United Right List and Kulanu, the main bone of contention concerns the ministerial portfolios they will receive.

The List is demanding Bezalel Smotrich becomes the next justice minister but Mr Netanyahu is anxious to keep that for one of his Likud loyalists.

Meanwhile, Kulanu’s Moshe Kahlon not only insists on remaining finance minister but demands the final say on any tax rises, which he opposes, and to review the budgetary demands of the other parties before signing his coalition agreement with Likud.

The six-week period granted to Mr Netanyahu by President Reuven Rivlin to form a government ends next week.

For now the expectation is that Mr Netanyahu will succeed at the last minute but if he fails to secure a majority in the Knesset by then, President Rivlin will have to allow another MK the opportunity to try form a government. If that candidate also fails in 28 days, new elections must be held.

Mr Netanyahu’s task to sign agreements with all his partners is made much harder by the fact they are all very aware he needs a majority in the Knesset to shield himself from indictments.

His coalition partners’ appetites are accordingly large: they want a ministerial portfolio for every two Knesset seats. That means the new government may contain over 30 ministers, requiring a change in the law that limits portfolios to just 18.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive