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Israel's New Government: Three Things to Know

Speaker: Robert M. Danin, Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
March 19, 2013

Nearly two months after national elections, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was able to form a new coalition government comprising four parties and totaling 68 out of 120 Knesset members. Robert Danin, CFR's Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies, highlights three things to know about Israel's new government:

Divisions on the Palestinian Issue: Netanyahu's coalition is deeply divided over prospects for peace with the Palestinians, Danin says. "Should the United States successfully launch a peace process with the Palestinians that begins to make real progress, then Netanyahu's coalition will feel the strain," he cautions.

Domestic Focus: The new Israeli government is unique in that it is committed to addressing some of Israel's core domestic issues, such as the separation of religion and state, achieving more equitable burden sharing, and reforming Israel's electoral and education systems, says Danin. The government's domestic focus means it will leave key strategic issues like Israel's stance on Iran's nuclear capabilities to the country's national security establishment, he predicts.

Staying Power: Contrary to conventional wisdom, Danin predicts that Netanyahu's new government "could be around for some time to come." More than a third of Israel's newly elected parliament members, including Netanyahu's new core coalition partners and key cabinet ministers Lapid and Bennet, have never served in government before, and are unlikely to call for new national elections in the short term, he says.


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