Analysis: Israel gets a new government – what will it do?

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Netanyahu knows his coalition partners will want to press ahead with their tougher agenda

Israel appears poised to have a stable and ideologically cohesive government, made up of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, the nationalist Religious Zionism party and two ultra-Orthodox parties. Which raises the question: what will this government actually do?

Perhaps his first priority will be the Supreme Court, which has been the bane of the Israeli right for years, largely because it has overturned – or invalidated – government legislation, or prevented enforcement of decisions governmental.

Many on the right also see it as a symbol of secular, Ashkenazi, liberal power, a privileged temple for the elite they want to dislodge. It is this temple that the new right-wing government want to take on.

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On the new government’s to-do list, reducing the power of the court is high on the list.

More precisely: the main politicians of the alleged coalition want to pass a so-called “notwithstanding clause”, which would allow a majority or a supermajority in parliament to overturn court decisions.

While opponents see the move as a blow to Israeli democracy, it promises to be controversial.

Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to supporters on Israeli election night, at the Likud party headquarters in Jerusalem, November 2, 2022.

Then there’s the far-right legislator Itamar Ben Gvir, who will want to use his growing political fortune to push for an easing of restrictions on the rules of engagement for soldiers and police – something right-wing politicians have been calling for for years. Again, this will be controversial.

On matters of religion and state, ultra-Orthodox coalition partners will take steps to end more liberal regulation of Jewish conversion and certification under Jewish dietary laws. They could also try to rescind permits given to some stores and supermarkets in secular areas to stay open on the Jewish Sabbath.

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LGBTQ+ rights are also likely to be targeted by this coalition. The religious parties will try to roll back the reforms of the past year. Amir Ohana, an openly gay member of Netanyahu’s Likud party who previously served as justice and public security minister, said there would be no rollback of rights. But there will certainly be attempts.

Netanyahu sent a message of restraint from the podium on election night. He knows his coalition partners will want to press ahead with their more radical agenda.

And he will have to decide if he wants to hold them back.

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