Bibi’s greatest success has been to establish himself as a default prime minister without giving Israelis a clear idea of where he wants to lead the country

Israel’s coalition talks finally concluded at midnight on Wednesday, six long weeks after the election. Israel, with its proportional representation election system, has only ever had coalition governments – but the latest, which is Benjamin Netanyahu’s fourth, is already shaping up to be one of the worst.

It is hard to decide what is of greater concern – the handing of key ministries, education and justice, to the leaders of the far-right Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party, or the fact that this coalition comprises five rival parties, with a majority of only one Knesset member, spells political paralysis and two equally unappetising alternatives. Two things may happen: long-term stagnation during which none of Israel’s cardinal issues – the occupation of the Palestinian territories, inequality within its society and the neglect of minority communities – will continue and deteriorate, or there will be another election that is unlikely to yield better results.

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