Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met today with the leader of the second largest party, Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid, to discuss their options for forming a unity government in the wake of an extremely close election.
A simple majority of Likud-Beiteinu, Yesh Atid, and Jewish Home seems virtually assured, with Kadima likely to bring its two seats along for the ride. Netanyahu hopes to get 80 seats, however, which with no other list getting 20 seats would mean no single partner in the Knesset could force a new election.
80 seats is a tall order, however, and even with Kadima he’s only up to 64. Labor has ruled out joining and will lead the left-center opposition. The three parties still under consideration are Shas, United Torah Judaism (UTJ), and Tzipi Livni’s Party.
The difficulty of Shas or UTJ coexisting with the secular Yesh Atid is going to make that a difficult sell, and Lapid is opposing this. Netanyahu is reportedly not keen on letting Livni into the coalition, something Lapid apparently wants.
Analysts see a “compromise” in which UTJ is excluded but Shas and Livni are both allowed in as a possibility, and if that happens it would indeed put the coalition above 80 seats. It would also stack it with natural rivals however, and ensure that the government is liable to face infighting on most issues of domestic and foreign policy.