Israel forms its most right-wing government ever as Netanyahu returns

Designated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he has successfully formed a new coalition to govern Israel. Credit: AP

A new government considered to be the most right-wing in Israel's history has been announced, returning Benjamin Netanyahu to power.

The Designated Prime Minster Netanyahu revealed that he had successfully formed a new coalition in an phone call to President Isaac Herzong.

His Likud Party released a brief video clip of the smiling Netanyahu and a recording of the conversation.

“I wanted to announce to you that thanks to the amazing public support we received in the elections, I have succeeded in forming a government that will take care of all the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

The move comes after weeks of difficult negotiations with his partners - who still need to finalise power-sharing deals with Netanyahu's Likud Party.

The inbound PM however intends to complete the process "as soon as possible next week."

If successful, he will preside over a coalition dominated by far-right and ultra-Orthodox partners each pushing their own agenda.

Dramatic changes could risk alienating parts of the Israeli public and raise the risk of conflict with Palestine - something that would put Israel on a collision course with supporters such as the United States.

Itamar Ben Gvir was once was convicted of incitement to racism and supporting a terrorist organisation. Credit: AP

Netanyahu already has reached agreements with some of the most controversial figures in Israeli politics.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, who once was convicted of incitement to racism and supporting a terrorist organisation, has been appointed security minister - a new position that will place him in charge of the national police force.

While his running mate, Bezalel Smotrich, a West Bank settler leader who believes Israel should annex the occupied territory, is set to receive widespread authority over West Bank settlement construction, in addition to serving as finance minister.

Another ally, Avi Maoz, head of a small religious, anti-LGBT+ faction, has been placed in control of parts of the country’s national education system.

Before the government is sworn in, Netanyahu will try to push through a series of laws needed to expand Ben-Gvir’s authority over the police and to create a new ministerial position granting Smotrich powers in the West Bank that in the past were held by the defence minister.

The ultra-Orthodox, meanwhile, are seeking increases in subsidies for their autonomous education system, which has drawn heavy criticism for focusing on religious studies while providing its students few skills for the employment world.

Netanyahu, who himself is on trial for alleged corruption, is eager to return to office after spending the past year and a half as opposition leader.

He and his partners are expected to push through a series of laws shaking up the country’s judiciary and potentially clearing Netanyahu of any charges.

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Netanyahu is Israel's longest-serving prime minister, serving a total of 15 years before he was ousted last year.

He has claimed he is a victim of overzealous police, prosecutors and judges. But critics say the plans, including an expected proposal that would allow parliament to overturn Supreme Court decisions, will destroy the country’s democratic institutions and system of checks and balances.

Netanyahu has sought to portray himself as the responsible adult in the emerging government, saying in interviews that he will set policies. But his partners are likely to test his limits at every chance.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Credit: AP

The US and European Union have both said they will judge the new government by its policies, not its personalities. But in a recent speech, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made clear he expects it to uphold “shared values” and not take actions that could preclude the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Yohanan Plesner, a former Knesset member who is now president of the Israel Democracy Institute, a Jerusalem think tank, said he expects to see a stable coalition take power in the coming days.

“It’s in the interest of all members of the new coalition to form this government,” he said. “All of them have a lot to gain and much to lose if it’s not formed.”