The Collective
Friday, February 20, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Peres calls rival Israeli leaders

Israeli President Shimon Peres is meeting the heads of Israel’s two main political groups to assess which should be asked to form the next government.

Centrist candidate Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party won most of the votes by a slim margin in an election on 10 February.

But Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing Likud party, has the support of more parliamentary factions.

Mr Netanyahu’s bid for PM was boosted on Thursday when he won the backing of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party.

It should be understood by readers in the US that the Israeli president is an appointed position with largely ceremonial powers. He is not actually choosing the next PM, rather he is assessing which party has the best chance to form a coalition by which to govern. The Netanyahu bloc would appear to have 65 seats, which is more than a majority out of the 120 seats in the Knesset. Livni’s party, Kadima, has one more seat that does Netanyahu’s Likud, but it does not appear that she can muster a coalition to govern. As such, Likud will get the first chance to form a cabinet.

Attempts at negotiating a unity government of Likud and Kadima have come to naught, which is discussed at greater length in this Jerusalem Post piece: Peres will task Netanyahu with forming new government.

Here’s the seat breakdown (from the BBC):

The 65 seat coalition in question would consist of the following: Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas, United Torah Judaism, National Union and Jewish Home.

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2 Responses to “The Next Step in Israeli Cabinet Formation”

  • el
  • pt
    1. MSS Says:

      I would not necessarily take Livn’s “no” at face value. Netanyahu will very much want her in, and she may have little choice. Much of her party (including Livni herself) is ex-Likud and I am skeptical that the party can cohere in opposition. She may have to join the government to save her party, even though she represents a marginally more left-of-center and very marginally more dovish position than the party as a whole. She’ll also likely come under some public pressure to do it to save her country from the fanatics on Likud’s far (and dark) side, and its relationship with the US.

      Netanyahu will not want to be dependent on reactionaries like Jewish Home and National Union, and if he does not come to terms with one of them, he can’t afford to lose the other and still have 61 seats.

      And Shas and YB in the same coalition is a recipe for problems, given that YB is ultra-secular and Shas never does anything without the blessing of its ultra-Orthodox rabbinic leadership. (Both of these parties have a lot in common with Kadima, on several issues important to them, which is missed in all the coverage that simply calls this the “right-wing” bloc; Shas is a left-wing party on economics, and YB wants civil marriage legalized and is in favor of a 2-state solution.)

      In other words, Netanyahu is likely to be forced to make Kadima and Livni and offer they can’t refuse. If not immediately, then at some point down the road of the life of his government.

    2. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

      Interesting. Indeed, the JP story suggested that Netanyahu really wants a unity government with Kadima.

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