Mofaz sworn in after technical hitch

Knesset vote of 71:23 installs Kadima chair as VP after fears of backroom deals between Kadima, Likud nearly derail coalition.

Netanyahu looks up in Knesset_370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Netanyahu looks up in Knesset_370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Opposition MKs succeeded in delaying the swearing in of new Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz on Wednesday by revealing a technical error made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
National Union MK Uri Ariel wrote Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin that the law required Netanyahu to submit all agreements with Kadima 24 hours ahead of approving a new coalition agreement. He noted that Kadima MKs had told the press that Netanyahu had promised Kadima portfolios at a later juncture.
When Ariel asked Netanyahu if there was a verbal appendix to the coalition agreement that had not been submitted to the Knesset, the prime minister at first appeared to try to avoid answering the question.
“This is the only signed agreement,” Netanyahu said. “We spoke about some things that were not finalized. There are things that are still open and that we will still talk about, and things that are conditioned on other things.”
When Rivlin informed Netanyahu that any verbal agreement must also be submitted. He asked for a 10 minute recess that ended up lasting an hour. When the session resumed, Netanyahu said he took time because he wanted to handle everything legally.
“In the midst of the negotiations, there were talks about possible future events but they did not lead to an agreement,” Netanyahu said. “Anything that develops into an agreement in the future will be reported here. There is a possibility that additional ministers will be appointed in the future but there is no agreement on that yet.”
Kadima sources said Netanyahu was referring to the possibility that Kadima MKs would be appointed to replace two ministers who will quit politics soon: Homeland Security Minister Matan Vilna’i (Independence) and Minister-without-Portfolio Yossi Peled (Likud).
There is also a possibility that Israel Beiteinu or Shas could leave the coalition due to future disputes on controversial subjects and that its portfolios could be given to Kadima.
Ariel accepted Netanyahu’s explanation and wished him well.
But other opposition MKs vowed to remain vigilant and ensure that Netanyahu does not use his widened coalition for any problematic future maneuvers.
“We proved a little opposition can accomplish big things,” said Labor faction chairman Isaac Herzog.
“This coalition started in sin and it will end in sin.”