Benjamin Netanyahu Cobbles Together Israel Coalition of Rivals

Excludes Haredim in 68-Seat Block With Lapid and Bennett

Benjamin Netanyahu clinched a coalition deal with rivals Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett to form a new Israeli government.
getty images
Benjamin Netanyahu clinched a coalition deal with rivals Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett to form a new Israeli government.

By Nathan Jeffay

Published March 14, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has successfully assembled a government, after almost six weeks of tense negotiations and pushing up against his deadline on Saturday.

Three parties will serve alongside his Likud-Beiteinu faction: the new centrist Yesh Atid, the staunchly pro-settler Jewish Home, and the Tzipi Livni’s dovish party, known in Hebrew as Hatnua. The government will have the loyalty of 68 of the Knesset’s 120 seats — a smaller majority than Netanyahu wanted.

The coalition deal, which will be finalized later today barring any last minute hiccups, is a highly unusual one for Israel, because it excludes ultra-Orthodox parties, which have been sidelined after propping up governments for decades.

Their exclusion is a result of Yesh Atid’s election success, which catapulted the brand new party in to the Knesset as the chamber’s second largest. Having promised voters that it would work to draft Haredim into the army, it argued that having Haredi parties inside the government would derail its plan, and refused to serve alongside Haredim. Jewish Home also made this demand as part of a strategic pact it forged with Yesh Atid.

While the coalition negotiations began with a focus on issues and principles, in the past few days matters like the Haredi draft took a back seat to discussions on who should serve in what ministry and how large the cabinet would be. And many Israelis are disappointed because they had hoped that the inclusion of a centrist and a dovish party would bring moderation to the country’s two most important ministries.

Netanyahu is holding the Foreign Minister portfolio for Avigdor Lieberman, the hard-right Likud-Beiteinu politician who is unpopular in the international community. Lieberman is currently on trial for fraud and breach of trust, but is expected to return to the ministry if the verdict allows him to do so.

And the Defense Ministry, the address for day-to-day and strategic decisions regarding the West Bank, will go to Moshe Ya’alon, a former military Chief of Staff who thinks that the two-state option is a lost cause, and has said that anybody who sees a solution on the horizon is engaging in “self-deception” and promoting a “golden calf.” He made these comments in an interview in June, during which he said that the conflict is currently a “problem with no solution” and it is conceivable there could be a million settlers in the West Bank.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.