Benjamin Netanyahu was forced into compromises in frantic negotiations aimed at forming a coalition last night as would-be right-wing partners demanded key ministerial posts as a condition for joining.
With his options closing, the Israeli prime minister looked certain to bow to demands from Jewish Home to appoint one of its MPs, Ayelet Shaked - known for strident hardline views - as justice minister as the price for forming a government.
Israeli media reports suggested Mr Netanyahu had already agreed to the demand, with negotiations focusing on the remit of a job that will put Ms Shaked in overall control of the country's judiciary. The appointment is sensitive because of proposals - supported by right-wingers - to dilute the powers of judges in Israel's supreme court and because the new justice minister will have the power to appoint the next attorney general when the post becomes vacant in the next six months. The prospect of Ms Shaked at the helm triggered a wave of opposition criticism. Nahman Shai, an MP for the centre-Left Zionist Union, said it would be "like giving a pyromaniac the Israel Fire and Rescue Authority".
The controversy over Ms Shaked has been fuelled by her previous attempts to introduce a bill reducing the supreme court's ability to strike down legislation it deems unconstitutional. Her bill was tabled after the court overturned a law that would have allowed the jailing of asylum seekers without trial.
She drew criticism shortly before last summer's Gaza conflict after posting on Facebook the text of a 12-year-old address from an Israeli speechwriter that appeared to advocate waging war on the "entire (Palestinian) people, including its elderly and its women". Ms Shaked said the speech had been mis-translated into English from Hebrew.
Her likely appointment was the result of a demand from Naftali Bennett, Jewish Home leader, who raised the stakes as the deadline loomed. (© Daily Telegraph, London)