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As Netanyahu Forms His Coalition, Israelis Want Him To Focus on Economy, Security

A familiar face, and more familiar issues.

Now that the Israeli election is over, former Prime Minister and Likud party leader Binyamin Netanyahu convenes with his close aids and allies as he is expected to be tasked with forming the government next week.

Netanyahu is expected to form the country’s most right-wing government in history when he takes power, likely in the coming weeks.

After 12 years in power, Netanyahu was ousted last year amid serious allegations of corruption with several trials. He made his dramatic comeback with the help of the ultra-right ultra-nationalists and the ultra-Orthodox parties.

The veteran Israeli politician met on Monday with Otzma Yehudit party leader Itamar Ben-Gvir for the first time following the election, for coalition negotiations.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu met with Avi Maoz, the leader of the far-right Noam party amid threats from the anti-LGBT party to boycott the coalition.

Israel has voted five times in less than four years, and it has not had a stable government in years. People here want a strong, stable administration that can deal with some of the issues on their minds.

Devorah Abramson didn’t vote in the November 1 parliamentary election. She told The Media Line that she didn’t have anyone to vote for, but that didn’t stop her from demanding things from the next government.

“Security for sure is a big issue. For sure, economically everything is very expensive. People don’t make as much money as they need.”

Social worker David told The Media Line that the next government must have an economic policy that will lead to lower prices.

“Let’s start with the mistakes of the last government. Start with the cost of living. People want to buy a coat. And they need to spend 300 to 400 shekels so they can be warm in the winter. We’re talking about a basic item of clothing. People need to stay warm.”

But Professor Ronnie Shaked of the Hebrew University’s Harry S. Truman Research Institute told The Media Line that the latest election revolved around one person and was not about issues.

“What happened recently is not an ideological election. This was an election about a specific person, and Netanyahu knew what he wanted to do.”

Michael, a waiter at a pizzeria who voted for the Religious Zionism party, says he wants less government intrusion in the economy.

“I want to focus on fighting crime and terrorist attacks. I want a free market and I don’t want to see Islamic parties in the government.”

That comes against the backdrop of the worst resurgence of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the last seven years. But when The Media Line asked Shaked whether people’s concerns over the economy and security were justified, he said no.

“I don’t think so. The economy of the Israeli people is very good. People are talking about home prices and the ability of the average citizen to buy a house, which has become very expensive. This is the only economic concern,” said Shaked. “Otherwise, restaurants are full, and people travel abroad by the millions. The security situation is tense in the West Bank, not inside Israel, and there are not many problems.”

Netanyahu spent the last 16 months plotting his return, and with his victory, he can resurrect his political career.

Presumed incoming Prime Minister Netanyahu knows this could be his last chance to form a government; he’s 73 years old, has legal troubles, and fierce competition from within his party makes it difficult for another comeback.