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On the edge: Netanyahu's shaky majority

Friday, May 15, 2015 - 02:16

Israel's new rightist government has convened its first cabinet meeting after being sworn-in. But with a razor-thin majority and early wrangling over ministry posts, Prime Minister Netanyahu faces a difficult term. Ivor Bennett reports on the potentially far-reaching consequences.

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He managed it, but only just. Benjamin Netanyahu a relieved man after Israel's parliament approved his new government. The Prime Minster having to rely on all 61 of his coalition partners to vote in his favour. Giving him a majority of just 2. (SOUNDBITE) (HEBREW) ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, SAYING: "This evening with God's help we will form a government for Israel, we will safeguard security, we will work toward peace." But that's as far as he got before the heckling began. Members of the opposition laughing off Netanyahu's mention of peace. Believing it a token gesture of a government that's championing a nationalist agenda. Netanyahu's cabinet was able to laugh this vote off. But it has a difficult job ahead. Its razor-thin majority potentially ruling out any controversial policies Perhaps opening the door to a vote of no confidence. For the moment though, Netanyahu isn't backing down. (SOUNDBITE) (HEBREW) ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, SAYING: "We will be determined to defend our border and to defend our security from faraway and from near. All the enemies of our country should know that we have red lines. This was our policy before and will continue with the new government." It's that kind of language that's made many of Israel's neighbours uncomfortable. Allies too. Prospects of resolving the U.S.-sponsored Palestinian peace talks are rapidly fading. And then there's the nuclear negotiations with Iran. But even without Israel's lurch to the right, the region is complex enough, says Commerzbank's Peter Dixon. SOUNDBITE (English) PETER DIXON, GLOBAL STRATEGIST, COMMERZBANK, SAYING: "If you look across the Middle east as a whole, it's a question of where do you start? I mean there are political problems everywhere. You have questions with regard the integrity of certain countries notably Syria. You have issues with regard to the role of Iran. What's the future for Saudi Arabia under the new king? And all of these things are adding up to a fairly volatile mix." Celebrations aside, Netanyahu knows he could be on shaky ground too. By keeping four cabinet posts for himself, there's speculation he's holding them for the centre-left opposition in a bid for more support.

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On the edge: Netanyahu's shaky majority

Friday, May 15, 2015 - 02:16