Although last month’s Israeli elections appeared to be a victory for Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud, the subsequent phase, in which he must build a governing coalition, is still under way. If Netanyahu fails to form a coalition by May 28, President Reuven Rivlin will either ask the leaders of another party to do so or call for new elections. The Israeli press yesterday cited claims that Likud was close to finalizing a coalition deal with Yisrael Beytenu, but nothing is yet certain, as Shmuel Rosner writes:
On election night, the right wing was victorious and seemed ready to seal a deal. But with time, it became clear that its victory was simultaneously too decisive and not decisive enough. It was too decisive in the sense that all of the parties involved got cocky, basked in their glorious victory, and, possibly, lost touch with reality. It was not decisive in the sense that, while a majority of votes went to right-wing parties, the right’s advantage is much narrower in terms of Knesset seats. That’s because many right-wingers voted for parties that ended up below the electoral threshold of 3.25 percent, [and that thus have no representation in the Knesset]. . . .
Netanyahu must include [every right-leaning party] in order to surpass 60 votes [in the 120-member Knesset]. So he must find a way to satisfy Yisrael Beytenu’s leader Avigdor Liberman and the Shas party’s Aryeh Deri, [whose respective agendas are directly opposed].
Theoretically, Liberman remains on the sidelines while letting the prime minister form a 60-member coalition. This means less political chaos, but for Netanyahu—who is under indictment for corruption charges—it also means a hoard of legislative defeats.