Coalition Confusion

Or, a Basic Guide for the Perplexed

Let’s get this straight: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has led  a coalition government with a majority of 61 out of 120 Members of the Knesset for just about a year now. That is, until Friday when personnel changes introduced new actors onto the stage and led to the parting of others.

In a nutshell: Last week we reported Israeli media speculation, based on numerous signs, that the Labor party (“Zionist Camp”) was being courted to join the government. This turned out to be nothing more than a desire by left-wing policy wonks to press the issue. Instead, Netanyahu turned to his one-time Chief of Staff, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is our Home) party with its six Knesset seats — ousting current Defense Minister Moshe ‘Bogie’ Yaalon and awarding the coveted post to none other than Avigdor Lieberman himself.

Avigdor_Lieberman_on_September_15,_2010The to-be-anticipated snowball effect took less than 24 hours, when Yaalon resigned from his Likud Knesset seat. He didn’t mince words, and in his understated tone, made sure to mention he would — at a later time — be back to contend for leadership of the State. 

And one more twist; the resignation means that next-in-Likud-line Yehuda Glick will be sworn in tomorrow as the newest Member of Knesset.

yehuda glick suit
Photo credit: Miriam Zahi


This writer is proud and sure that MK Glick will be a serious legislator and source of pride for the parliament.

What doe this all mean for Israeli government policy? For now, more of the same. We can expect no major changes in government guidelines, for the coalition parties have stressed the need to stick to what has worked so far.

[See these officially translated, thanks to the work of the Yes! Israel Project.]

Take national security, for example — no change here:                         

The Government will actively seek to fortify the national security and bestow personal security on its citizens while vigorously and determinedly fighting against violence and terror.

The Government will advance the political process and act to promote peace with all our neighbors, while preserving the security, historic and national interests of Israel. 

This means that on national security, the guideline does not split hairs what the solution may be, nor does it reference a preferred policy. Not one-state, not two-state, but a strong guiding statement for any future resolutions. 

And now PM Netanyahu leads a coalition of 67 MKs, giving him a bit more legroom on his parliamentary journey. This may seem like a coup, but consider the upheaval inside his own Likud party, losing #2 and what was a fairly secure defense policy, inside Israel and abroad as well. Sure, Likud ministers and MKs will fall in behind the new deck of cards,  but for how long.

Expect to hear murmurings about the future leadership of the Likud and of the country, as the current government’s time counts down.

About the Author
Ruth Lieberman is an Israeli-based political consultant and licensed tour guide, combining her love of Israel with political acumen to better Israel's standing both at home and in the eyes of the world. She has consulted for political leaders in Jerusalem and in Washington, from work on election campaigns to public advocacy and events. Her tours in Israel connect Biblical history to modern realities, to highlight Israel's achievements and promote its policies.
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