Netanyahu has rocky road ahead in new coalition
JERUSALEM — Forced to rely on the support of two fast-rising rivals in his new governing coalition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is confronting a reshaped and rocky landscape that could spell trouble ahead: An unwanted culture war with the country's ultra-Orthodox minority as well as pressure to make peace overtures to the Palestinians.
After weeks of difficult negotiations, Netanyahu, who barely hung onto his job, was forced to cede significant power to his new partners, liberal former TV anchorman Yair Lapid and his unlikely ally, pro-settlement hard-liner Naftali Bennett.
Both men make no secret that they want to be prime minister one day, and each can bring down the government at will.
This new constellation is expected to force the cautious Netanyahu, who presided over a broad and stable coalition during his previous four-year term, to confront some of the nation's most contentious issues.
Both Lapid and Bennett have vowed to end years of preferential treatment for the country's small but politically powerful ultra-Orthodox minority. Lapid and the junior partner in the coalition, former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, will also put heavy pressure on Netanyahu to take a softer line toward the Palestinians. With President Obama visiting next week, Netanyahu could be forced sooner than later to make difficult decisions about the Palestinians.
“The next term will be one of the most challenging in the history of the state,” Netanyahu said on Thursday. “We are facing great security and diplomatic challenges.”
The ultra-Orthodox minority makes up roughly 8 percent of the country's 8 million people. Their political parties have traditionally wielded power far beyond their numbers by guaranteeing a string of prime ministers a parliamentary majority.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.