Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


What Can the New Israeli Government Do?

Following the electoral upheaval, some clarity

Print Email

The conventional wisdom following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s less-than-stellar showing in January’s elections–which carried through the arduous coalition negotiations that ensued–was that Bibi would no longer be the unchallenged voice of Israel’s government. As the new government was sworn in today, that truth was realized.

But how will this new coalition work? And what can we expect from it? Those answers seem less clear. Over the weekend, David Horovitz underscored the biggest difference between this new coalition and the last one, which will have huge ramifications, namely the absence of the ultra-Orthodox:

The ultra-Orthodox parties are often described as Netanyahu’s “natural allies,” which inaccurately suggests a commonality of purpose and orientation. In fact, the ultra-Orthodox parties are Netanyahu’s unthreatening allies. So long as he funded them, they supported him. And they were never going to produce a rival prime ministerial candidate.

As Horovitz and many other point out, Netanyahu now has two rivals: Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, whose success in both elections and negotiations all but effaced their stigmas as political neophytes. This will no doubt impact the ease with which Netanyahu is able to govern.

On a JCRC conference call this morning, Yossi Klein Halevi echoed this, explaining that without the ultra-Orthodox “rubber stamp” of Netanyahu’s policies and an ideologically diverse coalition to contend with, Bibi isn’t going to have an easy time. In fact, the first and easiest legislative tasks will take square aim at issues that are anathema to the ultra-Orthodox: the conscription and national service requirements from which they’ve long been exempt as well as education reform, which may defund religious schools that don’t teach math, science, and English, in the hopes of compelling the ultra-Orthodox to join the workforce.

As a result, Yossi Klein Halevi and others predict a “tough summer” ahead in an Israel that will be marked by heavy protests and the “hard experience of cultural war.”

But once the common ground between the coalition is spent, expect some fissures. Many are predicting that the coalition won’t last, which doesn’t mean that Netanyahu won’t stay in power, it seems likely that he will, but that some parties may exit (and enter) the coalition quickly depending on what happens.

For example, if the peace process gets a jolt from an Obama visit or a popular push, you can expect Naftali Bennett and the Jewish Home to peace out. To boot, earlier today, Foreign Minister-to-be and Yisrael Beiteinu head Avigdor Lieberman said that he would block any efforts to freeze settlements. But if the Jewish Home bolts and peace is on the table, Labor and other parties may be wooed and could make up the difference.

No matter what, expect a very wild year ahead.

Netanyahu and His Partner-Rivals

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

Ezikiel says:

The leaders at the top of the new Israeli government – Netanyahu’ Lapid, Benet and Liberman are of surprisingly similar views of the reality and future of the Jewish state, views that are also shared by the vast majority of Israelis. The two-state-solution is dead and gone. Some sort of annexation will have to take place, and the Jewish character of the State of Israel must be fortified to enable this process. The only remaining question is how to secure the human and civil rights of the Arab population of Judea and Samaria. There too, the agreement is wide. None advocates the removal of any person – Jew or Arab – from their homes. All believe in freedom of movement and human rights. None of them, however, believe in Palestinian National rights anywhere between the Jordan River and the sea. Economically as well, the agreement is wide-spread. Free market tampered by Jewish values of social justice and social solidarity. Not Marxist or socialist solutions. This is how thing should be. I’m amazed that we have actually gotten to this point. It’s a very hopeful moment to be an Israeli. It’s also a big surprise how so few pundits are ready to comprehend this.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

What Can the New Israeli Government Do?

Following the electoral upheaval, some clarity

More on Tablet:

Kerry Links Rise of ISIS With Failed Peace Talks

By Lee Smith — Secretary of State: ‘I see a lot of heads nodding’