Avigdor Liberman has declared war on the ultra-Orthodox parties, threatening to send the country to early elections if a tough proposal to draft scores of yeshiva students isn’t adopted by the next coalition government. In turn, the leaders of Shas and UTJ have pledged not to join any government that seeks to significantly broaden the scope of ultra-Orthodox young people drafted into the army or another service of the secular state.

That is the picture you get if you take the words of these Israeli politicians literally. In reality, while difficult, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s path toward forming a new right-wing government won’t be delayed for long by this obstacle.

First, it’s important to understand why there is an apparent deadlock. While UTJ and Shas command more than triple the number of seats Yisrael Beteinu has, that fact in itself does not diminish Liberman’s enormous leverage. Netanyahu needs a minimum of 61 seats to form a stable coalition. The right bloc won exactly 65 seats, of which Lieberman controls 5. The only right-wing party that could be excluded from the coalition is Kulanu, which is perhaps the party most eager to join any Netanyahu-led government if not the Likud itself.

In other words, there is no right-wing government without the ultra-Orthodox parties and Lieberman, and thus Netanyahu’s ability to play them against each other is limited — which is why he should thank the lucky stars that this crisis over drafting yeshiva students has been severely overblown.

Second, the proposal on the table, which was made in response to the High Court invalidating previous regulations that exempted ultra-Orthodox students from national service, is hardly the tough-as-nails reform that both Lieberman and the ultra-Orthodox parties have a political interest in making it out to be. The vast majority of yeshiva students will retain their exemptions. The target number for ultra-Orthodox soldiers under this scheme is a little less than 7000; the dirty little secret here is that the Israeli-born ultra-Orthodox population is already fairly close to hitting this “ambitious” goal. Additionally, this bill contains no criminal sanctions for ultra-Orthodox yeshivas if they fail to meet draft quotas, only financial ones.

Finally, about the current controversy: Following political developments in Israel is to manage the inflow of an unenviable onslaught of information from both dubious and reliable sources. Amidst all the manufactured dramas it’s sometimes difficult to remember that we’ve been here before, and, in this case, rather recently.

About a year ago, a crisis over the same debate to draft a modest number of yeshiva students was ended through a clever compromise: a preliminary vote was allowed with parties, including Yisrael Beteinu, given a free vote on the matter. One reason Netanyahu reportedly called an early election called was to bypass the court-imposed deadline for a new bill regulating ultra-Orthodox conscription. The goal here is to delay the final vote for as long as possible, an eminently achievable goal now that there is a new Knesset that must start the multivote process all over again. It’s no surprise that a similar compromise is being floated inside Likud now.

In truth, this will merely serve as a delaying tactic, enough to get the coalition formed but not enough to prevent a new crisis down the line. But actually enacting the law, which doesn’t address at all the High Court’s concerns about social equity, won’t be a much greater accomplishment. In all likelihood, it will be struck down again. The tense debate is about how exactly the government should play chicken with the judges. Actual reform of the system was never on the table. The puzzle for Netanyahu is to come up with a plan in which both sides save face while nothing is actually accomplished.

I will risk one prediction and say the final compromise will favor Liberman in appearance. Yisrael Beteinu’s election campaign, which went largely under the radar in the English-language press, painted a starkly negative image of the ultra-Orthodox leadership in order to consolidate and appeal to Liberman’s core base of secular voters who immigrated from the former Soviet Union. It was enough to win five seats, which is five more than many polls predicted before the election. I don’t see Liberman backing down. On the other side, UTJ chairman Yaakov Litzman came out of the crisis last year humiliated and abandoned by Shas and its leader Aryeh Deri. I imagine he will do whatever is necessary to sell a compromise to the mercurial rabbinical leadership of UTJ. Either way, little will fundamentally change.