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Netanyahu Forms 6th Government, Minutes Before Deadline

Benjamin Netanyahu announced the formation of his 6th government since the late 1990s with a simple tweet, “I’ve done it,” late Wednesday, minutes before the deadline. But even though Netanyahu’s Likud party had enough coalition partners to form a solid 64-seat majority, it has taken him seven weeks to bring his right-wing partners to agreement. And even now, he still hasn’t signed coalition deals with any of his partners…he just has verbal agreements.

The 37th government of Israel will be the most hardline Israel has ever seen, with right-wing and religious factions in key ministerial positions and possessing a strong legislative majority in the Knesset.

Netanyahu informed Israeli President Isaac Herzog of his success just 20 minutes before the midnight deadline Wednesday.

Netanyahu told Herzog, “I wanted to inform you that, thanks to the immense public support we won in the elections, I have managed to set up a government which will take care of all the citizens of Israel. And I, of course, intend to establish it as quickly as possible.”

President Herzog replied, “The obligation is to work for the entire Israeli people and public, and I hope you will all join up for this mission at this time. Good luck.”

Next are some formalities in the Knesset, and after that, Netanyahu will have seven days to get his formal agreements signed and swear in his government.

Netanyahu’s party, Likud, is Israel’s largest right-wing party, but its right-wing ambitions pale in comparison to coalition members: on the far right, Otzma Yehudit, Religious Zionism and Noam, and ultra-Orthodox religious parties Shas and United Torah Judaism (whom Netanyahu has partnered with for most of his political career).

While almost everyone in Israel agrees that it is a “Jewish” and “democratic” state, how those terms are defined varies widely and is at the heart of the concerns over Netanyahu’s new government. The new prime minister’s far right and religious partners want to make some major changes in Israel, altering the judicial structure and the nation’s security forces, as well as shifting the secular educational and social services systems toward orthodox religious views. This has many Israelis concerned.

The members of the new government have also pledged to improve the security of Israelis internally from terror attacks, as well as externally, from the threat of a nuclear Iran.

It is anticipated that current illegal settlements in the West Bank will be given the green light, and an ardent pro-settlement MK (member of the Knesset) will oversee the security of the West Bank. Also, there is concern that the Law of Return (who is considered Jewish and therefore able to be a citizen) will be changed, disallowing people who have a grandparent who was Jewish (a measure that was good enough for Hitler to throw you in a concentration camp!) and possibly Messianic Jews.

(Photo credit: Matty STERN / U.S. Embassy Jerusalem, Wikipedia)

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