PM’s Coalition Likely to Hold Together for Now, Analysts Believe

YERUSHALAYIM -
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, flanked by Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi (L) and Coalition Chairman David Bitan (R), at a Likud faction meeting. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition will likely hold together – for now, sources in the political establishment told Channel Two. But the Likud’s coalition partners may try to take advantage of the legal issues Netanyahu faces to “squeeze” him for concessions that he might not otherwise have been prepared to make, the sources said.

With the decision by Netanyahu’s former Chief of Staff, Ari Harow, to turn state’s evidence, speculation has risen that police are likely to recommend indicting Netanyahu in at least one of the investigations pending against him. If Netanyahu is indicted, the pressure on him to resign will be strong – but the pressure on his coalition partners to quit the government will be even greater. Realizing that elections could be closer than they might have anticipated, Netanyahu’s coalition partners – Jewish Home, Shas, United Torah Judaism, Kulanu and Yisrael Beytenu – may try to achieve some legislative goals that they can present to their voters in the next election, the sources told Channel Two.

Netanyahu has already showed “flexibility” in recent weeks, the sources said; for example, he gave his blessing to Jewish Home’s Jerusalem Law, which will require 80 MKs to make a change in the city’s municipal boundaries. Netanyahu has not necessarily been a supporter of that stance in the past. He also is now supporting legislation that will require the death sentence for terrorists, another law he has not supported in the past. With that, the sources said, the parties will most likely not “go for broke” and threaten to break up the coalition unless they get their way, since the current coalition enables them to accomplish their goals.

Speaking in a weekend interview, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of Jewish Home said that “I have always said that this government is the best we could hope for. If an indictment does not result from all this talk, I see no reason why the government cannot continue to function until the time of the next scheduled elections in 2019. There is great cooperation between the parties in the government and we are all getting work done in the ministries. Elections always have many implications. The newspapers are full of predictions and speculation, but we don’t think they are applicable right now. I believe we need to let this prime minister, and this government,continue to work.”