Following the exit polls on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called five individuals. The first on his list was Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, Netanyahu's future, senior coalition partner. The second and third conversations were with two of Shas' three leaders, Aryeh Deri and Interior Minister Eli Yishai. Finally, Netanyahu telephoned United Torah Judaism's Yaakov Litzman and Moshe Gafni.
Netanyahu didn't call Habayit Hayehudi leader Nafatali Bennett, another potential member of the upcoming coalition. This does not indicate that the Habayit Hayehudi will remain outside the coalition, but it does point to the sullied personal relationship between the two.
As much as the heads of Likud and Habayit Hayehudi are natural partners, they never signed an electoral alliance. Regardless, they will be compelled to cooperate and overcome past difficulties.
Netanyahu and Lapid, however, already enjoy near complete coordination as future partners. When Netanyahu elucidated his political goals for the next government at a press conference on Tuesday, Lapid was well aware that the prime minister's positions were in line with the issues that Yesh Atid championed during its campaign.
Netanyahu also had the foresight to know that Lapid would not join an obstructive bloc and prevent Netanyahu's third government.
Coordination between Netanyahu and Lapid already began a number of weeks ago and, in the days following the elections, was kicked into high gear. The question is: Will Netanyahu agree to relinquish joint participation with ultra-Orthodox parties for the sake of Lapid?
The answer is probably negative, though Netanyahu will push the haredim aside in favor of handing Lapid and members of his coterie prominent portfolios in the next government.
Some have indicated that Lapid could be tapped to serve as foreign minister, given that, in light of Yesh Atid's success, he will want one of the three most senior portfolios. It seems, however, that former Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman will return to the position after his legal proceedings come to a close.
Netanyahu is trapped in a game of Twister: He will be forced to address the controversial issue of enlisting haredim into military service and pass the 2013 budget within the next month and a half, immediately after the president tasks him with forming the government. It won't be easy, but such is the case with a small victory.