And so the eyes of all Yisrael are upon you, O lord king, to tell them who shall succeed my lord the king on the throne (Kings 1 1:20)
Prime Minister Netanyahu has successfully formed a coalition of right-wing parties including his Likud party, the two Ultra Orthodox parties (United Torah Judaism and Shas) and Ayelet Shaked‘s Yamina. There’s just one problem – it only adds up to 55 seats. That’s six mandates short of the 61 seats required to form a coalition.
The wild card is Yisrael Beitenu headed by Avigdor Liberman. Although he is right-wing, he is also against what he considers to be religious coercion. That however, is an inevitable outcome of a government consisition of the Ultra-Orthodox. So Liberman gave Netanyahu an ultimatum – Drop the Ultra-Orthodox parties and form a unity government with Gantz and his Blue and White party or else Liberman won’t join the coalition.
But Netanyahu is now trying to bypass Liberman by inviting Blue and White to join his right-wing block. Blue and White want to wait until the soldiers, hospital patients and prisoner’s votes are counted before making any decision. Additionally, Netanyahu wasn’t clear if he planned on excluding any of the other parties in his 55-seat coalition should Blue and White take him up on his offer.
In the meantime, neither Netanyahu nor Liberman appear to be budging and if it continues like this for the next month, and the soldier’s ballots make no significant change, Israel will most likely head to a third round of elections.
A failed coalition has never happened in Israel’s history making September’s elections historic. But to happen twice in a row is even more unprecedented.