Middle East

Netanyahu forms right-wing religious government

Israel's designated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (73) has succeeded in forming a right-wing religious coalition government.

The chairman of the conservative Likud party announced this to President Izchak Herzog on Wednesday evening shortly before the deadline expired. The new government must be sworn in by January 2nd. Negotiations between the future coalition partners were still ongoing.

The soon-to-be ruling parties have promised to improve the country’s internal security amid the ongoing wave of terror, curb the rising cost of living and counter Iran‘s nuclear ambitions.

In addition to Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party, the far-right Religious-Zionist Alliance and two strictly religious parties will be represented in the coalition. It is the most right-wing government Israel has ever had.

The new government wants to push through major political changes. They could also help Netanyahu with his ongoing corruption process.

Etanjahu’s camp won 64 out of 120 seats in the November 1st election. It was the fifth election in Israel in three and a half years. The former long-term prime minister is returning to power after a year and a half in opposition. In Israel’s history, no one has held office longer than he. The conservative politician was Prime Minister from 1996 to 1999, then again continuously from 2009 to 2021.

When he was replaced last year, the Netanyahu era was initially considered over. However, the eight-party coalition of his successors broke up in June due to disputes. The liberal Future Party of outgoing Prime Minister Jair Lapid (59) came second in the election with 24 seats.

Netanyahu’s ultra-right coalition partner Bezalel Smotrich (42) announced a radical program even before the election, which could also result in the case against Netanyahu being overturned. He wants to significantly restructure the judicial system. Smotrich is also considered an advocate of settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank.

Fatah, which dominates in the West Bank, and Hamas, which rules in the Gaza Strip, do not hold any parliamentary elections at all, but govern without democratic legitimacy. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was elected for four years almost 18 years ago and is still in office.

Israel’s Netanyahu presents unity gov’t to Knesset

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