What Israel’s next government might look like

Ben Sales

On Tuesday, Israeli voters gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a clear mandate to form the next government. To do that, he’ll need the support of at least 61 of the Knesset’s 120 lawmakers. Here are a few of his options, and for background, here’s an overview of the parties and what they stand for.

The right-religious “natural partners” coalition (67 members)

Parties: Likud (30), Kulanu (10), Jewish Home (8), Shas (7), United Torah Judaism (6), Yisrael Beiteinu (6)

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The most likely scenario based on the results, this coalition is the one analysts are expecting to take shape. It’s basically a reversion to Netanyahu’s relatively stable 2009-2013 coalition of right-wing and relgious parties, called Likud’s “natural partners.” The center-right Kulanu, headed by former Likud minister Moshe Kachlon, would also join this coalition in return for a prominent post like finance minister.

This coalition would likely take a hard-line on security and diplomacy, and a more progressive stance on economics, according with Kulanu’s and Shas’ platforms, which focus on alleviating poverty and lowering cost of living. This coalition, with haredi participation, could also roll back the 2014 law including haredim in the military draft.

The center-right coalition (65 members)

Parties: Likud (30), Yesh Atid (11), Kulanu (10), Jewish Home (8), Yisrael Beiteinu (6)

The haredi UTJ has not endorsed Netanyahu for prime minister. What happens if they refuse to? Another scenario for Netanyahu is again excluding the haredi parties from the government, choosing right-wing and centrist allies instead. This coalition would look a lot like the outgoing one. It would have a free-market oriented economic policy and would probably not roll back the haredi-focused reforms of the last government.

The obstacle to this coalition is Yesh Atid. That party’s fighting with Likud caused the last coalition’s collapse, and its full-throated endorsement of West Bank withdrawal doesn’t accord with Likud’s or Jewish Home’s policy.

The unity government (81 or 77 members)

Parties: Likud (30), Zionist Union (24), Yesh Atid (11), Kulanu (10), Yisrael Beiteinu (6), or

Likud (30), Zionist Union (24), Kulanu (10), Shas (7), UTJ (6)

Netanyahu has said several times that he does not want to partner with the Zionist Union in a coalition, so this is unlikely. But if UTJ, Kulanu or Yesh Atid force his hand, this may become an option. And a wider coalition usually means more stability, which Netanyahu values.

The first of these coalitions would be centrist diplomatically and economically, at most enacting some economic reform based on Kulanu’s platform. The latter would likely roll back the haredi reforms of the last government and enact more progressive economic policy. But, again, neither of these coalitions is probable.

Ben Sales is JTA’s Israel correspondent.