The Muskogee Politico's Israel Update
The Israeli elections held on February 10th resulted in Tzipi Livni's Kadima winning a plurality of seats in the Knesset, but Binyamin Netanyahu the presumptive prime minster, as the right wing parties won more seats than the left wing.
Israeli President Shimon Peres gave Netanyahu the official green light to begin forming a governing coalition on February 20th. Initially, Netanyahu voiced his hope to build a broad coalition, with the more left-wing Kadima and Labor joining his government along with right wing parties such as Yisrael Beitenu and Shas. However, Labor said they would not join a Netanyahu or Livni government.
Today, Tzipi Livni rejected Bibi Netanyahu's offer to join his coalition, meaning Netanyahu will have to turn to the nationalistic, right-wing parties to form a government. The parties in a right-wing coalition would be Netanyahu's Likud (27 Knesset Members, or MKs), Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu (15 MKs), Shas (11 MKs), United Torah Judaism (5 MKs), National Union (4 MKs), and Jewish Home (3 MKs). To form a governing coalition, Netanyahu must have at least 61 MKs supporting him.
It would appear that Bibi will easily break the 61 mark. However, a recent statement by Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv could possibly mean that United Torah Judaism will refuse to join a coalition with Yisrael Beiteinu. The latter party has made marriage reform a central part of their demands. Currently, there are no provisions for civil marriage in Israel; the only approved marriages in Israel are those performed under the regulations of a recognized religion, and marriages performed outside of Israel.
Rabbi Elyashiv has said that it is forbidden to compromise in any way regarding civil marriage, and that civil marriage must not be allowed even between non-Jews.Will this endanger a Netanyahu coalition? Only time will tell.