Inside Israel and the Palestinian Territories
The Likud party leader was chosen to form a government after a right-wing majority was elected in a Feb. 10 parliamentary election. Netanyahu has been shuttling between factions, trying to cobble together as broad a coalition as possible that will have a better chance of long-term survival.
Major stumbling blocks so far have been over the future of Palestinian statehood talks and strategies to heal a contracting economy.
But recently, two potentially important coalition partners have been butting heads over the legalisation of civil marriage. Secular nuptials are not recognised by the Jewish state’s religious authority, the ultra-Orthodox Rabbinical Court. And clerics have a monopoly on marrying people in Israel.
There’s plenty of personal invective and general mudslinging going on in the final days of the Israeli election campaign. With 30-plus parties in the race and a good dozen of them in with a reasonable chance of parliamentary seats, everyone is fighting everyone else in a political version of a bar-room free-for-all.
While the main contenders slug it out over who is best placed to keep Israelis safe from attacks by Palestinians or a potentially nuclear-armed Iran, some of the most heated sparring is between smaller parties whose radically different constituencies highlight the diversity of Israeli society. Take Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu for example. Between them, they could get about a quarter of the vote on Tuesday and they’re slugging it out in some colourful language.