JERUSALEM, March 14 (Xinhua) -- After about six weeks of intensive negotiations, Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday was able to finalize his new coalition cabinet.
The new cabinet will be a vastly different and smaller government from his previous one, for instance the ultra-orthodox Shas party who are long time allies of Netanyahu won't be part of the new government.
The government will also have 21 ministers, not counting Netanyahu, compared to 28 ministers in the previous one.
In Jan. 22 elections, the Likud-Beiteinu alliance received 31 seats; the Israeli Knesset parliament got 120 seats, when the votes of the election held on January 22 were counted.
The elections results meant that Netanyahu had to start the coalition negations from a weakened position, and he also had to deal with the unprecedented phenomenon of two potential coalition partners, Lapid and Bennet, forming a pact of their own and establishing policy demands even before the negotiations had begun.
Yesh Atid and HaBayit HaYehudi announced that they would only join the government if a new draft law put in place that would revoke the exemption of ultra-orthodox Jewish men from military or civilian national service, which is mandatory for Jewish Israelis.
Shas opposed a change and will now for the first time in nearly two decades find itself in opposition.
Professor David Nachmias, of the Interdisciplinary-Center in Herzliya, told Xinhua on Thursday that a coalition of only 68 seats is "a major defeat for the Likud party and for Netanyahu," and that Netanyahu was very unhappy with not having a broader base for his coalition government.
Nachmias added that due to smaller size of the government " there is lots of discontent with the Likud party" as members of the party who were ministers lost their positions and also by younger members who felt that they should have been given a ministry.
One of the major issues that the new government will have to deal with will be to set a new budget, one that would have to include major cuts as a report for the finance ministry released last year showed that Israel's budget deficit would grow to 4.2 percent of GDP, a number much higher than previously estimated.
Nachmias said that the formation of the new government wouldn't make it easier for Netanyahu and Lapid, who will become finance minister, to reduce the budget deficit by for example cutting the defense spending.
"Because Moshe Yaalon the Minister of Defense, is a very defense oriented person and so are the right-wingers like Uri Ariel, who got the ministry of housing and he is probably going to start a massive building in the West Bank," Nachmias said.
He added that "the major expense is the defense budget are salaries and pensions for people that can retire at the age of 45. And that calls for radical legislation," which he doubted that the government would try to do.
Professor Joshua Teitelbaum, of the Bar-Ilan University, said that the chances of restarting the talks basically "will remain the same even though Netanyahu has placed Tzipi Livni in charge of Palestinian issues and of course she has a different view than he does but, I'm sure he will control all matters."
He added that "unless [United States President Barack] Obama is coming with something to pull out of his hat, and all indications are that he is not, I don't see any major changes happening."
Obama is scheduled to visit Israel next week and while American officials have denied that he will push for negotiations to be resumed, Obama has in the past said that he won't visit Israel unless there is a chance to make substantial progress in the peace process.
Dr. Mark Heller, of Tel Aviv University, said that Israel's offer to resume negations without preconditions will stay on the table and then it will be up to Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas whether he will drop his prepositions or not.
Abbas has demanded that Israel renew the settlement construction freeze it implemented December 2009-September 2010 before returning to the negotiations table.
"If Abbas does and talks actually begin then I don't that under any circumstances that it's possible to reach a comprehensive agreement, but it's possible that partial progress might be made in which case there might be some serious tensions within the coalition," Heller said.
He added "not just HaBayit HaYehudi might object to it, there might also be some elements within the Likud."