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Netanyahu forms last chance right-wing coalition

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has formed a coalition with the Jewish Home party with a majority of just one seat. The far-right party has been previously known to support controversial legal proposals.

The pro-settler Jewish Home was the only alternative left for Netanyahu after Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the anti-Arab Yisrael Beiteinu and foreign minister in Netanyahu's outgoing government, refused to join the Likud's coalition.

Netanyahu's bloc did not "reflect the positions of the nationalist camp," Lieberman said, after Likud offered his party two positions in the coalition government.

The re-elected prime minister was forced into negotiating with other parties yet again after his right-wing party managed to win only 30 seats in the snap election.

'Not only for right-wing'

The Likud party, together with its coalition partners, the orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism and now the far-right Jewish Home, can now achieve a majority of 61 seats in Tel Aviv's 120-member Knesset.

"I said that 61 is good, and 61 plus is even better. It begins like this. I propose that we begin to work," Netanyahu said in a joint statement with Jewish Home leader, Naftali Bennett late on Wednesday.

On forming the right-wing coalition, Bennett pledged that the government would not be only for right-wing Israelis.

"The negotiations are over. Campaigning is over. We are now going to get to work. For you," Bennett tweeted shortly after.

Coalition at a cost

The coalition with the Jewish Home party has come at a cost for Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, however. With little room for maneuver, analysts believe Netanyahu will now be at the mercy of rebels the first time the coalition faces a crucial vote.

"Netanyahu is left with an unmanageable situation," said political scientist Emmanuel Navon, of Tel Aviv University.

"The first thing he'll do tomorrow ... is take his phone and start working on a coalition with [the Zionist Union]," he told AFP news agency.

The Israeli prime minister announced the snap polls in December of last year after admitting that his government was unable to function in a stable manner due to too many parties in the coalition.

ksb/gsw (dpa, AP, Reuters)

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