While the endorsement of Yisrael Beiteinu chief Avigdor Lieberman has likely secured the Likud Party the first opportunity to form a coalition government, but getting the controversial right-winger to actually join that coalition is going to cost would-be Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu far more than anyone could have imagined.
Lieberman is now demanding three major portfolios for members of his parties: the foreign ministership (presumably for himself), the justice ministership, and the public security ministership. The demands are unprecedented for a party offering 15 seats to a coalition, and will be even more controversial given the ongoing criminal investigations against Lieberman. But can Likud say no?
If they fail to secure Lieberman’s cooperation, they’ve got no obvious path to a coalition government: the religious right simply doesn’t offer enough seats on its own and Tzipi Livni will reportedly only consider having the Kadima party join the government if Lieberman is also involved. Turning over large swaths of the Israeli government’s domestic and foreign policy to Yisrael Beiteinu may be unpopular within the Likud Party, but they may have little choice.