During the extremely slow-moving coalition negotiations in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a luxury in dealing with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman: he didn’t really “need” him.
Shooting for a 67-seat majority but needing only 61 for a majority, Lieberman’s 6 seats seemed disposable. Now that Lieberman is officially heading to the opposition, Likud officials are warning that 61 probably isn’t enough.
On paper it is, of course, a majority in the 120-seat Knesset. Yet packed with Israel’s ultra right-wing parties, it would only take one or two members of the coalition to collapse the government at any given time.
Such a narrow majority gives even small factions within member parties a lot of power to block legislation, and officials warn that the majority won’t last long, and Israel could be heading for another early election.
Even getting to the 61-seat majority is no guarantee. Likud announced a deal with Shas finally, but they still need to get Jewish Home to agree to a coalition, and leader Naftali Bennett is expected to demand an extreme amount of influence to sign on the dotted line.
Netanyahu is expected to try to avoid another early election by trying to quickly moderate, hoping a little bit of progress on rapprochement with the US and the Palestinians could give him a shot at bringing the centrist Zionist Union into a coalition when this one collapses. Zionist Union leaders say that’s unlikely, and with Bennett so peace-averse, the coalition could collapse long before any rapprochement really begins.
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