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Netanyahu's new government already on shaky ground

With the numerous challenges facing the new Netanyahu government, and with a slender majority, many are predicting his coalition won't last long.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) shakes hands with members of the opposition after he was sworn-in as Prime Minister for the fourth time, to lead the 34th Israeli government, at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem May 14, 2015. Netanyahu's new rightist coalition government, hobbled from the outset by its razor-thin parliamentary majority, was sworn in late on Thursday amid wrangling within his Likud party over cabinet posts. Picture taken May 14, 2015. REUETRS/Jim Hollander/Pool -
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Israel’s Knesset convened May 18 for its first official meeting since the presentation and swearing-in of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government. The new ministers have begun getting accustomed to the new, difficult political reality forced on them. Since Netanyahu’s fourth government is based on a very slim majority — 61 supporters in the coalition versus 59 in the opposition — ministers and Knesset members (MKs) in the coalition will have to remain firmly grounded, ready to vote at any given moment in the Knesset plenum.

Until today, an “offset,” or quid pro quo, system had been customary in the Israeli parliament. This meant that coalition MKs could go on trips abroad and otherwise be absent from the plenum as much as they wanted as long as they could produce the name of a corresponding MK in the opposition who agreed to “offset” him or her — in other words, be absent from the same meetings and votes. As of now, the offset method has been revoked, and all leaves have been canceled. Everyone, and that means everyone, is confined to the plenum in a brittle, rare and terrifying balancing act.

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