Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu presented the new government to President
Shimon Peres on Saturday night, ahead of its swearing in at the Knesset on
“As you know, I formed a government.
You gave me the
mission, and I accomplished it,” Netanyahu told the president.
facing a decisive year in security, the economy and efforts to promote peace, as
well as the desire of Israeli citizens to bring change.”
minister said it was his mission and prayer that the government would bring good
news in all areas to the citizens of Israel.
Netanyahu for forming a coalition on time, and expressed hope that the new
government0 would take the opportunity to solve problems in the fields the prime
Acting Knesset Speaker Binyamin Ben- Eliezer said on
Saturday night that Netanyahu had notified him of the coalition’s formation, and
the government would officially be sworn in on Monday.
Netanyahu informed Peres that he had formed a government, the White House
released a statement congratulating the prime minister.
congratulates the Israeli people, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the new members
of the prime minister’s governing coalition on the successful formation of
Israel’s new government,” the White House said. “President Obama looks forward
to working closely with the prime minister and the new government to address the
many challenges we face and advance our shared interest in peace and
“The United States places a high value on its deep and enduring
bonds with Israel and the Israeli people,” the White House’s statement
continued. “The president looks forward to further strengthening those bonds
when he travels to Israel next week to meet with Israeli officials and to speak
directly with the Israeli people.”
Netanyahu is expected to face bitter
opposition within his Likud party from those who feel slighted by the positions
they are expected to receive in the new government. Most current ministers are
not expected to be promoted to more prestigious positions, while young MKs who
did well in the party primary are unlikely to be made ministers at
While Transportation Minister Israel Katz and Culture and Sport
Minister Limor Livnat will keep their jobs and outgoing Strategic Affairs
Minister Moshe Ya’alon will become defense minister, others, such as Gilad Erdan
and Silvan Shalom, expressed dissatisfaction with the portfolios they were
Outgoing Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar is the leading
candidate for interior minister, but Erdan is also a possibility, and MK Yariv
Levin was asked to be the next coalition chairman, but has yet to accept the
position. Former coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin is likely to be deputy foreign
minister, at the insistence of former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman, who
will return to his previous position if he is exonerated in his corruption
Likud activists have asked to call a central committee meeting,
expressing anger at the “disproportionate” number of posts the Yisrael Beytenu
section of Likud Beytenu received – five portfolios (Foreign, Agriculture,
Tourism, Immigration Absorption and Public Security) and a committee
chairmanship for 11 MKs.
On Friday, the last day before Netanyahu’s
deadline to form a government, Yesh Atid and the Bayit Yehudi signed coalition
The coalition agreements include commitments to enact reforms
for which the parties campaigned in the recent election, foremost of which is a
law to bring equality in the burden of national service. The bill will be
written by a committee of MKs led by a member of Bayit Yehudi, brought to the
cabinet for a vote within 45 of the government’s formation and passed by the
Knesset before the 2013 budget.
Unlike Likud Beytenu’s agreement with
Hatnua, the Yesh Atid deal only briefly mentions peace talks with the
Palestinians, saying the government will immediately begin efforts to restart
Bayit Yehudi’s agreement only says that party leader
Naftali Bennett will be on the Ministerial Committee for Peace Talks, which will
be led by Netanyahu, not soon-to-be Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. A Yesh Atid
minister will also be on the panel.
The parties also agreed on
farreaching electoral reforms, which should be passed by the end of the
Knesset’s summer session, which is usually in July.
The changes include
not allowing future governments to have more than 18 ministers and four deputy
ministers, abolishing ministers without portfolio and raising the electoral
threshold to enter the Knesset to 4 percent, from the current 2
In addition, the new law will instate constructive no-confidence
votes, in which 65 MKs will have to vote in a new government to bring one
Another part of the electoral reform is no longer allowing MKs to
take election funding with them if they move from one party to another, except
in cases where there is a faction made up of several parties, like Likud Beytenu
or the United Arab List-Ta’al.
The coalition agreement specifically
mentions that the parties do not agree on the “Norwegian Law,” which would
require an MK to resign from the Knesset upon being made a minister, further
separating the legislative and executive branches and allowing more members of
parties’ lists to have an influence. Should the sides be unable to reach an
agreement on the “Norwegian Law,” the electoral reform will be passed without
As for housing, the current condition set for citizens to receive
government- subsidized homes, which is years of marriage, will be canceled and
replaced with employment conditions.
In addition, the Israel Lands
Authority will remain part of the Construction and Housing Ministry, but
outgoing welfare minister Moshe Kahlon will be its chairman, rather than the
ministry’s head, Bayit Yehudi’s Uri Ariel.
The Public Diplomacy and
Diaspora Affairs Ministry will be disbanded, with all elements of public
diplomacy becoming part of the Prime Minister’s Office.
said MK Danny Danon was offered the position of deputy public diplomacy
minister, but, despite indications that there will be no new ministers from the
Likud, he said on Saturday night that he expects to be appointed minister,
because he is ranked fifth on the party’s list.
The Diaspora Affairs and
Jerusalem portfolios will go to Bennett, who will be responsible for Birthright
and Masa programs, fighting anti-Semitism and developing Jerusalem.
expected, Yesh Atid received the Finance, Education, Science and Technology,
Welfare and Health and Science and Technology portfolios for party leader Yair
Lapid and MKs Shai Piron, Yaakov Peri, Meir Cohen and Yael German,
Yesh Atid also received the deputy welfare minister
position, to be filled by Mickey Levy, as well as chairmanship of the Knesset
Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women, and the Committee for
Yesh Atid MK Yoel Razbozov will be chairman of the
Committee for Immigration and Absorption, which the party’s MK Dov Lipman said
would hold meetings focused on the needs of immigrants from Englishspeaking
Contrary to previous reports, Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah will
not be deputy defense minister, and the position will go to a Likud
In Bayit Yehudi, Bennett will be economy and trade minister, Uri
Ariel construction and housing minister and Uri Orbach pensioners affairs
minister. In addition, Eli Ben Dahan will become deputy religious services
minister and another party MK, possibly Avraham Wortzman, will be deputy
Bayit Yehudi MKs Nissan Slomiansky and Ayelet Shaked
both want to lead the powerful Knesset Finance Committee, and Shaked has refused
a rotation in the position.