Netanyahu Strikes Deal to Return as Prime Minister

Governing coalition will be the furthest right in Israeli history
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2022 7:05 PM CST
Netanyahu Strikes Deal to Return as Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu, center, pauses during a session after Yariv Levin was selected as speaker of the Knesset last week in Jerusalem.   (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo, File)

Benjamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday that he's assembled a coalition that will return him to the prime minister's office, where he'll reign over the most far-right government in Israel's history. The ultra-Orthodox and far-right allies he ceded power to have promised broad changes in the country, the Washington Post reports. They include weakening the clout of the Supreme Court, which has prompted concern among its supporters that Israel will be steered away from being a liberal democracy, per the New York Times. Netanyahu has argued that. "I'm the opposite of a strongman," he said in a recent interview. "I believe in democracies and obviously in the balance between the three branches of government."

Already the nation's longest-serving prime minister, Netanyahu will return to office after an 18-month absence, still on trial on corruption charges. He has said he won't use his authority to influence the trial, but some in the coalition said they plan to make some of the crimes Netanyahu is charged with legal, per the Times. The nation's attorney general supervises the prosecution, and coalition members have said they want to decrease her influence. After coalition attempts to broaden government power, the attorney general, Gali Baharav-Miara, said last week that Netanyahu's supporters want to make Israel a "democracy in name, not in substance."

His ultra Orthodox allies also want to change the Law of Return, which grants citizenship to any Jew from any country who can document having a Jewish grandparent. That law, and tradition, are widely considered important to Israel's connection to the rest of the global Jewish community. The ideology-based demands of some blocs prompted Netanyahu to seek an extension to the four-week deadline for forming a coalition, per the Post. (Read more Israel stories.)

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