In-depth: While Smotrich and Ben-Gvir have become poster boys of unruliness of new coalition, Netanyahu has host of other concerns as he reenters the premier office, like the cost of living and a threat of another intifada

Benjamin Netanyahu’s comeback as premier is all but complete as the new government was sworn in during a heated Knesset session on Thursday afternoon.

The veteran lawmaker has sought to calm concerns about the fate of civil rights and diplomacy since his bloc of nationalist and religious parties secured a parliamentary majority in a Nov. 1 election. But, he is also facing a host of challenges unrelated to the identity – as controversial as it may be – of his coalition partners.

עלה ביידי הנימין נתניהו יצחק גולדקנופף אריה דרעי משה גפני בצלאל סמוטריץ' איתמר בן גביר
Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition partners (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky, Hadar Yoavian, Kobi Koankas, Yoav Dudkevich)


The new Israeli government could quickly find itself confronted with two key issues in terms of security.

First is the replacement of Mahmoud Abbas. Aged 82, the President of the Palestinian Authority has generally not prepared his succession and the chaos that could follow his passing could prove sensitive for Israel. Especially since, in the event of new elections, Hamas promises to be largely victorious in the Palestinian territories.

The second issue is Iran. A crucial concern for Israel, is now at a standstill in terms of the nuclear threat, since any prospect of a nuclear agreement with the United States seems to be receding as Jerusalem wished. However, Iran continues to develop sophisticated weapons that it distributes to Israel’s regional enemies with Syria in the front line, which makes the Iranian threat very concrete, even regardless of nuclear weapons.

עימותים בין יהודים ופלסטינים בחווארה
Palestinians argue with IDF soldiers in West Bank (Photo: Arik Marmur)


National security

For Itamar Ben-Gvir, the new national security minister, the fight against crime in the Arab sector is a flagship project. But it seems unimaginable to expect results for several years, even with a major plan.

The prospects are the same for Jewish settlements in the territories, even if Bezalel Smotrich, ally of Ben-Gvir and supporter of “greater Israel,” should have a free hand in this next government on this highly sensitive issue. The coalition agreement implies that by 2025 Israeli jurisdiction will apply to all Israeli and Palestinian inhabitants of zones B and C. A way of annexing without saying so. But this process could be slowed down by the American administration which has already warned incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the matter.


Two crucial issues worry Israelis and affect their daily lives, much more than security threats – rising prices and real estate.

The new finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, has no experience in the economic sector, and his appointment to the post causes many concerns.

The real “Mr. Economy” of the government remains Netanyahu, who could keep control of the portfolio behind the scenes. But no plan has yet been announced to battle rising prices.

The cost of living is on every Israeli's mind
The cost of living is on every Israeli’s mind (Photo:


The question of real estate, a crucial problem in Israel, also remains very vague as the future minister of the ultra-Orthodox party Agudat Yisrael, Yitzhak Goldknopf, has no relevant experience. He even admitted to “not knowing that the country was experiencing a real estate crisis.” However, the question is an absolute priority for the country where home ownership has become almost impossible for young couples and where rental prices are also constantly rising due to a lack of available housing.


LGBT rights could be threatened by the new government that has several officially homophobic ministers. However, Netanyahu said on several occasions that he would not accept any obstacle to the rights of the LGBT community and assured that the Jerusalem Pride Parade would be maintained. A promise to live up to, since the coalition agreement contains a bill that would allow private contractors and medical personnel to refuse service to anyone if it goes “against their religious beliefs.”


The Israeli status quo between state and religion should be maintained and the ultra-Orthodox parties should not be led to ask for more, on paper. But Netanyahu has already promised the ultra-Orthodox parties a law exemption from the army for yeshiva students. These students should also receive an increase in the subsidies allocated to them.

הפגנת החרדים בירושלים בשל מעצר עריק
Haredi protest IDF draft in Bnei Brak (Photo: Shalom Shalev)


Discussions remain open regarding the distribution of “secular” subjects in religious schools, which the ultra-Orthodox parties would like to see reduced in favor of religious subjects. The other key issue could be that of Shabbat transport, which could be managed locally and not nationally. Finally, the conversion file could find itself on the front line in a country with 500,000 non-Jews from Russia or Ukraine, who found themselves without a civil status in a state, where this status is governed by religious representatives.

As reported by Ynetnews