It is possible that the cultural language shared by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid allows the two to speak relatively freely about issues that will be on the next government's agenda. More than anything, though, the arithmetic (31 seats for Likud-Beytenu and 19 seats for Yesh Atid) holds the key. If Netanyahu and Lapid can reach an understanding, then the coalition-building process will be on its way to completion even before President Shimon Peres grants Netanyahu the authority to form the next government.
Netanyahu and Lapid are presumably giving attention to the peace process with the Palestinians, on which Lapid is closer to Netanyahu than are the leaders of Labor and Hatnuah. Netanyahu has political space on this matter in Israel (but not in the international community), as long as he does not step back from the two-state vision he presented in his Bar-Ilan speech in 2009.
Surprising as this may sound, an understanding on budget issues will find Netanyahu and Lapid leaping together from promise to promise. Lapid may represent the social protesters of the summer of 2011, but he also represents those who would bear the burden of a 40-billion-shekel budget deficit in the near future.
During the election campaign, Habayit Hayehudi's Naftali Bennett spoke about the possibility of raising taxes if worrisome economic trends continued, a position that facilitates his joining an austerity government. Bennett also holds the view, shared by Likud's Right flank, that there would be no reason to destabilize the government if negotiations are held with the Palestinians, as long as Netanyahu doesn't sign an agreement to establish a Palestinian state. Given Habayit Hayehudi's moderate position on enlisting yeshiva students into the military, it seems that it would be easiest for Netanyahu to get Lapid and Bennett to join his coalition as quickly as possible, which would allow the Knesset to pass an equitable enlistment law. Only afterward, Shas could join the government with its 11 MKs. This coalition would include 64 MKs (including Kadima) at first and later grow to 75 MKs.
The main obstacle to forming a coalition won't be achieving a majority in the Knesset. Rather, distributing the ministerial posts will raise the highest hurdle. At a ratio of one minister for every three coalition MKs, Likud would get only seven portfolios. This could lead to an unprecedented internal struggle within Likud. To prevent this, and to promote new faces in government, Netanyahu must quickly open the Foreign Ministry's appointments committee, so that embassies and consulates can absorb the coalition ministers and MKs who were turned into political refugees following the election results.