61-seat majority leaves Netanyahu little margin for error
TEL AVIV— Nicholas Casey and Joshua Mitnick report: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finalized a deal late Wednesday to establish a new governing coalition, concluding weeks of negotiations after his March 17 election landslide victory.
“The present government is going to be even more dysfunctional than the last government given how narrow it is. Something has got to give.”
— Sam LehmanWilzig, a political-science professor at Bar Ilan University
At a joint news conference with Naftali Bennett, the leader of the pro-settler Jewish Home party and the last hold out in the coalition haggling, Mr. Netanyahu said he planned to immediately inform Israel’s president as required by law that he had successfully formed a majority coalition.
“No one was surprised that the negotiations were drawn out with all the parties, but no one was surprised that it ended on time.”
— Benjamin Netanyahu
Mr. Netanyahu’s struggle to form a coalition was a turn of fortune for the Israeli leader after his Likud party won a decisive mandate for a fourth term in the March vote. He opted to dissolve parliament and call early elections with the hope of forming a more cohesive and stable coalition. Now, he faces the prospect of more instability instead.
Mr. Netanyahu’s new majority numbers just 61 seats held by right-wing and religious factions, leaving Mr. Netanyahu with little margin for error in the 120-seat parliament, called the Knesset.
Analysts say that while such a government might be hard to topple from the outside—it will be solidly right-wing—such a narrow majority could leave it vulnerable to pressure from demands from individual lawmakers within his coalition that could endanger his government. Read the rest of this entry »