Netanyahu presents cabinet

2015-05-14 23:08
Benjamin Netanyahu. (Gali Tibbon, AFP)

Benjamin Netanyahu. (Gali Tibbon, AFP)

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Tel Aviv - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented his new government on Thursday, promising to safeguard security, "strive for peace and narrow economic gaps."

Netanyahu had requested a delay of several hours in presenting his government, after days of opposition filibustering and lengthy talks with members of his own right-wing, nationalist Likud party about distribution of ministerial posts.

The special parliament session to swear in his fourth government had been scheduled to start at 19:00 (16:00 GMT), but instead began two hours later. 

Netanyahu's Likud party exceeded expectations by winning 30 seats in the March elections, making it the biggest force in the 120-seat Knesset.

But Israel's multi-party system made for complex coalition negotiations, with each potential partner demanding a large number of senior ministerial posts.

Hours before a deadline last week, he managed to forge a right-wing, religious coalition of five parties, with a razor-thin majority of 61 seats.

To satisfy his coalition members as well as those of his own ruling party, Netanyahu sought to change a Basic Law that restricts cabinets to up to 18 members. The law was introduced only a year ago to curb Israel's tendency for wasteful, inflated governments.

The amendment to expand the cabinet was denounced by opposition parties and passed 61 to 59 in three readings, over three days of heated debates.

Since it passed its final reading late on Wednesday afternoon, Netanyahu has been holding marathon meetings with members of his Likud, trying to evenly divide amongst them those ministerial jobs left after many others were handed to coalition partners.  

Netanyahu wants to leave no coalition members disgruntled, because its narrow majority means all are needed to pass legislation.

The new cabinet - the most right-wing in Israel since the 1990s - will takes its oath after speeches by the opposition and faction leaders and a vote of confidence later in the evening.

Read more on:    benjamin netanyahu  |  israel

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