At this point in time, it appears as if the future coalition and Israeli government will be represented by the Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, Yesh Atid, The Jewish Home, Hatnuah and maybe even Kadima parties for a total of 70 seats in the Knesset. This means that parties with more than 10 seats (Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, Yesh Atid, and The Jewish Home) would have an effective veto power over the government and has the ability to topple the coalition at any point.
Regardless of one’s political views, the aforementioned coalition seems relatively cohesive. In fact, the leader of all parties except for Yesh Atid all once worked in the Likud party. In terms of religion, there is broad support for Tzohar and a more accommodating view of Judaism. All of the parties support a free market approach to the economy. All of the parties are in favour of greater Haredi integration into society and the IDF. They sing mostly the same tune on unions, dealing with monopolies, housing and even more particular subjects such as electoral reform.
Cohesiveness matters because it represents the stability of the coalition. If this election were to take place at a different time, it is very likely that these parties would coexist together for a long period of time without much controversy and implement most of their agendas. However, the election did not take place at a different time, it took place in 2013 when it appears as if Israel is going to need to make some strategic decisions regarding the Palestinians.
Later this month, American President Barack Obama will visit Israel and likely breathe new life into the peace process and put a greater focus on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Whether related or not, there are already strong rumours that Netanyahu is planning a settlement freeze outside the major blocs at the commencement of his new government. At some point in the next government, it appears that there is a significant chance that Netanyahu is going to make concessions towards the Palestinians.
As stated previously, every party with more than 10 seats in the potential coalition can topple it at anytime. This is important because any serious concession from Netanyahu will likely cause The Jewish Home to leave the coalition and cause an abrupt end to not only the ongoing negotiations, but the government as well. It is worth noting that The Jewish Home has been in government before when settlement freezes and other concessions were made without leaving the coalition, but they never have had as much leverage and power as they do now. For example, It seems unlikely that they would ever sit idly by and allow the government to evacuate settlements.
It is not only the concessions that are relevant in this situation but the construction of settlements in general. If the rumours are true, The Jewish Home is demanding the Housing ministry portfolio as a condition for them to join the coalition. Israel has a housing shortage and the Yesha Council would have an effective veto over Israeli housing development if this were to occur.
If Meretz cares about the peace process and the construction of settlements, I find it difficult to understand why they are not doing everything in their power to join this coalition and take away the leverage and veto power of The Jewish Home. Unlike Labor, Meretz’s platform is largely based on the peace process and occupation opposed to the economy. Similarly, Labor has a lot to gain by sitting in the opposition where as Meretz has relatively little. If they want to see progress on these situations, this is their best opportunity. If Meretz was being honest with themselves, they would join the coalition.