YWN-ISRAEL’s Prediction for the Next Coalition Government
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his team are involved in complex coalition talks that may continue into the coming weeks. It is in the prime minister’s interest to expedite the process, present his cabinet and then swear in the ministers and pass the state budget.
The key to the forming government is who signs first among the larger parties. That party will have the first choice of the senior cabinet posts. While many believe that Yair Lapid will be a major player, it is clear, especially after teaming up with HaBayit HaYehudi that Mr. Netanyahu does not want him/them in the coalition. Having to rely on Lapid and Bennett’s inexperienced judgment to maintain a stable coalition is not the prime minister’s first choice.
Lapid felt that together with Bennett, their combined 31 seats make them indispensible when in reality, it made him less desirable than before because for Netanyahu, who lacks ideology other than staying in power, Bennett and his party is a non-starter.
Due to friction between Bennett and the prime minister and Mrs. Netanyahu stemming from Bennett’s tenure as PM bureau chief, along with his ‘hard line’ right-wing views, Mr. Netanyahu prefers other partners, parties that will not threaten to topple the coalition when he make additional concessions to the PA (Palestinian Authority). Netanyahu knows the chareidim will not cause a stir when caravans are removed or additional territory given over to the PA chas v’sholom.
Mr. Netanyahu prefers to see Lapid in opposition, aware that there is an element of risk here too since as opposition leader, Lapid will likely gain popularity and then pose a threat in the next election. Nevertheless, YWN-ISRAEL predicts that Lapid will indeed remain outside of the coalition, along with his new found ally Naftali Bennett.
The coalition partners will include Likud/Beitenu (31) Labor (15), Shas (11), Yahadut Hatorah (7), The Movement (6) and Kadima (2). This will give the prime minister a solid majority of 72.
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich’s opposition to the government stems from her socialist leanings and opposition to the current fiscal policies. If given the treasury post, this would empower her to make some changes that the prime minister would accept, and by doing so, placate her supporters after vowing not to enter a Netanyahu-led government. Most senior Labor officials favor entering the government. Labor and the chareidi parties have more that unites them than divides them. Yacimovich’s socialist outlook works for the chareidim and she opposes Shabbos bus service too, albeit not because of Halacha but because it must remain the national day of rest.
Yacimovich told President Shimon Peres that she will back the government even as opposition leader on matters of defense, so for her, it comes down to the economy. She openly admitted that in today’s political reality, there is no alternative to Netanyahu to run the country. The chareidim and Labor see eye-to-eye on most issues and the chareidim are willing to accept the Ya’alon limited share the burden formula, so that too is no longer an issue because Yacimovich was less harsh on the chareidi draft than both Bennett and Lapid, who insist on the fast track.
Kadima will go along with just about whatever is offered, for Shaul Mofaz’s shattered party was left with two seats, and as a member of opposition he will simply be batul b’shishim, lost in the political arena and destined to vanish in the next election. By remaining a member of the cabinet he has a chance, albeit slim, of rebuilding his party. This will also depend in part on the future of Ehud Olmert and the outcome of his Holyland real estate trial and his future political ambitions.
Regarding The Movement party, Tzipi Livni realizes as well that if she hopes to remain a viable political personality she must remain in the public spotlight and becoming a cabinet minister with a major role [which will be tailor made for her] in the so-called peace talks with the PA will provide the forum she so badly yearns. The prime minister will have the final say in talks with the PA but Livni will have sufficient media spotlight and be the figure seen in shuttle diplomacy. Livni will have the CNN stage while the prime minister will have final say, a deal that can work for both.
The defense minister position will finally go to Moshe Ya’alon Likud’s retired IDF chief of staff who was pushed aside in the last government to bring in Ehud Barak, whose party’s support was required to firm up the coalition.
As for Lapid and Bennett, they will lead a very audible opposition and find themselves scratching their heads in bewilderment alongside their opposition colleagues, the Arab parties and the left-wing Meretz Party.
Lapid has clearly signaled that while he is popular, elected by the State of Tel Aviv, he sorely lacks the skills to stand firm against a career politician like Binyamin Netanyahu or his ally Avigdor Lieberman and Lapid’s statements following the elections are witness to his naiveté; telling the nation that “in the next election I will be prime minister” – quite the bold statement from one who has no military experience, no political experience, and was recently called on the carpet for buying his way into an institute of higher learning. This led to the revelation that he does not have a master’s degree as he claimed, and if one checks the Knesset website, in his bio they were careful to write “has studies towards a master’s degree”. In essence, the young political hopeful does not have a matriculation high school diploma so there you go for honesty and integrity.
The last senior post, foreign minister, will remain on hold pending the outcome of Avigdor Lieberman’s fraud trial. There are a number of possibilities here. The post will be held by the prime minister and the ministry will be run by the Yisrael Beitenu deputy minister; (2) a minister will be appointed from Lieberman’s party, who will step down if he is acquitted or remain in office if he is found guilty; (3) the prime minister will serve as acting foreign minister pending Lieberman’s return.
What is your opinion on the forming coalition? We would like to hear from you on the matter.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)