Benjamin Netanyahu should be charged Wednesday night with forming the next Israeli government, which would debut under the sign of the Prime Minister’s judicial troubles and the expected US initiative to settle the conflict with the Palestinians.
President Reuven Rivlin receives at 19H00 (16H00) the one he entrusts the care of forming a government following the legislative 9 April. Both will speak after 8:00 pm
Except thunderclap, the elected will be the outgoing Prime Minister. Netanyahu has the support of 65 out of 120 MPs in the new Knesset. He will have 28 days to get along with his partners around a government agreement. The deadline can be extended by 14 days.
If he succeeds, Mr. Netanyahu, 69, dominant figure to the point of seeming unbeatable, start a fifth term. In power continuously since 2009 and for 13 years in total with a previous term between 1996 and 1999, it would delight in July the record of longevity David Ben Gurion, founding father of the State of Israel.
At the head of the most right-wing government in Israeli history between 2015 and 2019, Netanyahu would lead a coalition at least as far right-wing, composed of more or less radical and more or less religious formations, and ultra-conservative parties. Orthodox representing the 10% of Israelis rigorously observing the rules of Judaism.
“I will be Prime Minister of all,” he promised Tuesday night, using a unifying tone in a toast with supporters after a campaign where his party, the Likud, has multiplied personal attacks against his main competitor , General Benny Gantz, and played on anti-Arab prejudices.
This master tactician will have the delicate task of reconciling the demands and contradictory interests of his future allies, beginning with the nationalist and secular party Israel Beiteinou and the ultra-Orthodox parties.
- Military Exemption –
Israel’s leader Beiteinou, Avigdor Lieberman, has said he is ready to go to new elections if a law on the military service of ultra-Orthodox is not adopted as he proposed when he was Minister of Defense in the previous government.
This law would cancel the systematic exemption from military service enjoyed by tens of thousands of students in Talmudic schools.
This exemption is perceived as an injustice by a good part of the population. But it is a red line for the ultra-Orthodox parties. With 16 MPs’ mandates, they also say they are not afraid of provoking new elections.
The Radicals of the United Right, an alliance of nationalist religious parties, demand the Ministries of Education and Justice which would open up a vast field of ideological action.
Commentators anticipate that beyond postures, pragmatism should prevail. The failure of the talks and the possibility of a government of union between the Likud and the center-right list of its main rival are a distant assumption, they say.
One of the questions asked is to what extent Mr. Netanyahu’s legal disputes will interfere in the haggling.
The Attorney General announced in February that he intends to charge Mr Netanyahu with corruption, fraud and breach of trust in three separate cases. Mr. Netanyahu claims his innocence.
- Annexation in view? –
One of his potential partners, Bezalel Smotrich, is openly supportive of a legal initiative to protect a sitting prime minister from prosecution.
These cases fueled speculation about a give-and-take that would ensure Mr. Netanyahu’s partners would not let him go if he became the first incumbent Israeli head of government to be charged.
Netanyahu said during the campaign he was ready to begin annexing Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Israel’s occupied Palestinian territory. Many of its potential majority support an at least partial annexation.
The first steps of the Israeli government could coincide with the presentation of the diplomatic plan that has been waiting for months from the Trump administration, a great ally Netanyahu.
The content is kept jealously secret. The Palestinians reiterated that they were not expecting anything good from an administration that showed in their eyes an outrageous bias towards Israel.
The Trump administration was marked by diplomatic disruptions to Israel, unfavorable measures against the Palestinians, refusal to commit to the creation of a Palestinian state, silence over colonization and, more recently, the possibility of annexation. Mr Netanyahu should position himself vis-à-vis both the American initiative and his majority.