Here is my letter that was published in the Jerusalem Post on Monday April 4:
Sir: I agree with PM Netanyahu, the electorate gave his party the largest support, 30 seats, almost twice as many as the next party, Yesh Atid of Yair Lapid with 17 seats. Therefore Bibi should be asked to form the next government. Also, the electorate voted mainly for right wing parties, so they should naturally form a stable coalition, Yamina of Naftali Bennett (7), UTJ (7), Shas (9), New Hope of Gideon Sa’ar (6), Religious Zionists (6), making a total of 65 seats, a clear majority and a stable government. These minor characters, Bennett and Sa’ar, who are busy telling Bibi not to put his own interests before those of the country should heed their own words. They should put the country before their own desires to replace Bibi and form a stable coalition with him. If not, the electorate will never forgive them. Sincerely, Jack Cohen
Since then President Reuven Rivlin has made a public statement that all things aside (including any moral judgement on Bibi’s indictment for corruption, etc.), a majority of parties have expressed their support for PM Bibi Netanyahu, and so he has no option but to first give him the task of forming a coalition government from the new Knesset. The problem is that the obvious candidates to form a right wing coalition with him as I indicated in my letter above, Naftali Bennett of Yamina and Gideon Sa’ar of New Hope, have taken a strong anti-Bibi stance and will not form a coalition with him, at least that is what they have been saying so far, rather they want to replace him. If Bibi were to offer them top Ministerial positions and deputy PM roles or even alternate PM, then that might persuade them. Or he might agree to become President of Israel when Rivlin retires next year and then they could alternate as PM’s.
But these are stretches of the imagination, because, in order to reach over 60 seats Bibi has been having discussions with the Arab Party Ra’am, that is in discussions with both Bibi and the opposition leader Yair Lapid. But, at least one of the right wing parties, Religious Zionists, have stated that they refuse to enter a government that includes an Arab Party, so if he should gain Ra’am but loses RZ, and possibly other Jewish religious parties, what has he gained. This is the conundrum that Bibi faces, unwilling partners. But, Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid is far from being able to form a coalition majority, and also Bennett, whose faction has only 7 seats, yet has the chutzpah to offer himself as a potential PM, has almost no chance. Politics makes strange bed-fellows, and unless some strange coalitions are formed, it looks as if we are in for another – the fifth – election!