Israel’s new coalition government, seemingly united only in their desire to oust longstanding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has left many wondering: what next? Surprisingly, for a disparate grouping of almost every major ideological pole in Israeli politics, they have adopted two concise objectives. First, avoid confronting the contentious issue of Palestine; second, stimulate a post-pandemic economic recovery.

Netanyahu, trapped in a perpetual battle for political survival during the latter stages of his 10-year tenure, never set a coherent economic agenda. The new government is prioritising a two-year budget, Israel’s first since 2018, targeting outstanding needs including infrastructure development, funding for Arab municipalities, and integrating the Orthodox Jewish community into the workforce. Right-wing Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman is expected to propose a range of tax increases and spending cuts to address emergent fiscal imbalances. Israel’s budget deficit grew to 11.6% of GDP in 2020 as revenue collapsed and emergency spending ballooned. Spiralling public debt obligations, forecast to reach an estimated 80% by 2024, also require attention.

The stark realities of Israeli politics may yet temper the coalition’s ambitions. Just one defection could snatch away its razor-thin majority in the Knesset. There is considerable scope for internal discord to emerge between parties that are historical adversaries, even on economic policy. Though they have pledged otherwise, Palestine will demand attention eventually. Fresh fighting in Gaza, settlement building in the West Bank or protests in Jerusalem could easily lead Ra’am, the first Arab party to join a coalition government since the 1950s, to withdraw support.

The outlook is certainly precarious. 70% of Israelis surveyed foresee a quick collapse and a fifth election in three years. Even if the coalition endures, it may do so in name only, paralysed by infighting. Ironically, it may end up governing like the man they toppled, surviving from crisis to crisis while leaving Israel’s mounting domestic challenges unaddressed.