Israel: Netanyahu is pushing the pace in forming a government – Politics


Benjamin Netanyahu Is in a hurry. Even before President Isaac Herzog has officially commissioned him to form a new government, the winner of the Israeli parliamentary elections is already holding coalition talks with the party leaders of his right-wing religious bloc, quite informally, of course. His goal: He wants to return to the office of prime minister as quickly as possible. But even at the first meeting, Netanyahu has to realize that his partners will not make it easy for him – not on personnel issues, and not on content either.

Already started on Sunday Israel the round of conversations. Netanyahu met in a Jerusalem hotel with the leaders of the two ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, as well as Bezalel Smotrich of the ultra-right Religious Zionists. Itamar Ben-Gvir once again claimed a special role. His party, called Jewish Strength, ran on a joint electoral list with Smotrich. He was still on vacation in the seaside resort of Eilat and only met Netanyahu separately on Monday at Tel Aviv’s Likud headquarters.

An arsonist’s charm offensive

Ben-Gvir is savoring the new role of kingmaker, which included a first photo together with Netanyahu on the occasion. In fact, Netanyahu had always kept his distance, but after the hour and a half conversation, Ben-Gvir seems to have come closer to his goal of becoming Minister for Public Security in the cabinet. In the meantime, he is not only demanding the post, but also special powers and financial resources.

He is now trying to allay reservations about his reputation as an arsonist and his convictions for incitement and support for terrorism with a kind of charm offensive. This is how he addressed an article for the much-read free newspaper Israel Hayom to “my brothers on the left” and assured in it: “I have matured, I have become more moderate and I have understood that life is more complicated.”

His partner Smotrich, who aspires to the Defense Ministry but is also being considered for the Treasury, is also reaching for central posts. Here and in other areas, conflicts could flare up with the religious parties who also want to see the strength they have gained converted into posts and influence.

According to media reports, a proposal by Netanyahu to speed up the negotiations was rejected by all partners. According to this, before the new government was sworn in, the future prime minister initially only wanted to regulate the allocation of posts and later negotiate the content. But no one seemed to want to rely on Netanyahu’s vague commitments or verbal promises.

Even Joe Biden called

Demands in terms of content, both large and small, now hail from all sides. For example, the ultra-Orthodox urgently want to reverse a special tax on sugary soft drinks and disposable plastic containers introduced by the previous government. Smotrich wants to ban football games on the Sabbath. Much more important, however, is the plan for a judicial reform that right-wing and religious people are striving for together. Among other things, decisions of the Supreme Court should in future be able to be overridden by a majority in Parliament.

Although it may be a while before a government is formed, Netanyahu is already enjoying regained status as a statesman. He received expressions of congratulations from all over the world, from Paris, London and also from Kyiv from the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. But more important than anything else was the call from US President Joe Biden, who has a long but not always troubled relationship with Netanyahu. But now more than conciliatory words came from Washington, combined with warm greetings to the influential wife Sara. “We are brothers,” Biden told Netanyahu, “we will make history together.”



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