Even by the standards of previous Israeli coalitions, the new government that is just been announced includes strange bedfellows.
The eight parties in the coalition range from the right-wing nationalist Yamina party to social-democratic Labor and left-wing Meretz. And for the first time in Israeli history, the coalition includes an Arab-Israeli party, Ra’am, whose four Knesset (Parliament) seats enable the coalition to reach a majority.
Another oddity of the new government is that Yamina leader Naftali Bennett will have the first two-year turn of a rotating four-year prime ministership with Ya’ir Lapid, leader of centrist party Yesh Atid.
The new government still has to survive a confidence vote in the Knesset, which is expected within the next week.
Given its ideological differences, the common goal of uniting the new coalition is ousting Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been prime minister since 2009. Netanyahu is desperate to hold onto power, not least because being in office provides him with some protection against fraud charges now making their way through the courts.
In the coming days, Netanyahu is expected to offer blandishments to everyone in the coalition in an effort to entice even one to defect. If he can do that, a new election would be likely (Israel’s fifth since 2019), giving him…