Now backed by a parliamentary supermajority, Benjamin Netanyahu has tremendous room to maneuver on Israel’s most pressing issues: peace with the Palestinians, possible war with Iran, and the growing rift at home between religious and secular Jews.

The stunning partnership with the opposition Kadima party, announced overnight Tuesday just as the nation was expecting him to call early elections, means the premier — if he so desires — can compromise with the Palestinians without being brought down by hard-line nationalists who had controlled his fate.

“A broad national unity government is good for security, good for the economy, good for the people of Israel,” Netanyahu declared at a news conference with Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, his new deputy prime minister.

With his coalition divided over a flurry of domestic issues, Netanyahu had declared in recent days that he would hold a parliamentary election in September, more than a year ahead of schedule. But as parliament convened late Monday to move toward elections, he and Mofaz were secretly wrapping up their power-sharing deal. Israelis were stunned to wake up Tuesday to a new political reality.

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