Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu completed the formation of a new coalition late Wednesday, putting him at the helm of a hard-line government that appears to be set on a collision course with the U.S. and other key allies.
Netanyahu reached a deal with the nationalist Jewish Home party shortly before a midnight deadline, clinching a slim parliamentary majority and averting an embarrassing scenario that would have forced him from office. But with a government dominated by hard-liners that support increased West Bank settlement construction and oppose peace moves with the Palestinians, he could have a hard time rallying international support. Controlling just 61 of 120 parliamentary seats, the narrow coalition could also struggle to press forward with a domestic agenda.
After Netanyahu’s Likud Party won March 17 elections with 30 seats, it seemed he would have a relatively easy time forming a coalition and serving a fourth term as prime minister. But the six-week negotiating process, which expired at midnight, turned out to be much more difficult than anticipated as rival coalition partners and members of the Likud jockeyed for influential Cabinet ministries.
“I am sure that nobody is surprised that the negotiations continued with all the factions and nobody is surprised it ended at the time it did,” Netanyahu said late Wednesday.
He vowed to install “a strong and stable government for the people of Israel” by next week, yet also hinted he would court additional partners in the near future.