After a delay of 51 days, Benjamin Netanyahu finally forms Israel's new government just ahead of deadline

 

Jerusalem

After weeks of angry public exchanges and protracted negotiations, Benjamin Netanyahu finally formed Israel’s new government today hours before an extended deadline expired.

The broad details – especially over the dissemination of cabinet jobs – were agreed earlier in the week, but the finer points are still to be ironed out . Specifically, the final announcement was delayed after a row over whether Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett – the leaders of the two other main parties in the coalition - were to be given the title of deputy prime minister.

The fresh row threatened to boil over at one point when negotiators from Mr Bennett’s religious right wing Jewish Home party failed to turn up to final talks yesterday after Moshe Leon, from Mr Netanyahu’s Likud-Beiteinu confirmed that the prime minister would have no deputies.

Jewish Home said Mr Netanyahu’s last minute decision not to appoint any deputy prime ministers, the first time it has happened for 50 years, was a violation of an agreement the party.

The move by Mr Netanyahu – just two days before the deadline for forming a government - may have been in response to the unbreakable bloc formed by Mr Lapid’s Yesh Atid party and Jewish Home, who boxed the prime minister into a corner with certain demands, especially the exclusion from the new government of the ultra-orthodox parties. Mr Lapid, a former talk show host, insisted during the campaign that Israel’s orthodox communities needed to contribute more to society, and especially complete mandatory military service from which they are currently exempt.

The ultra-orthodox parties are natural allies of Mr Netanyahu. “We wanted a broader more stable coalition and we didn’t hide that at any stage of the negotiations, unfortunately our partners wanted differently,” Zeev Elkin of Mr Netanyahu's Likud Party told Israel radio. “Under the difficult near impossible conditions, we had no other option and more or less had to conduct coalition talks under extortion, there is no other expression to describe it, under these conditions I think we obtained the maximum.”

Arieh Deri – the leader of the ultra-orthodox Shas party, told Israel’s Army radio that, “our first mission is to topple this government.”

The government, when it is finally agreed, is likely to be shown in on Monday, just two days before US president Barack Obama arrives for a state visit. Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah party makes up the coalition.

Attention is likely to turn to the new administration’s position on the moribund peace process with the Palestinians. “The composition of the new government will shift the emphasis towards civic issues, and that means that talks with the Palestinians will get greater promotion,” said Professor Dan Avon, a senior lecturer in the department of political sciences at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. “This government is less nationalistic than the outgoing administration – just look at the coalition partners – in Lapid’s Yesh Atid party there is a strong cohort of people who are pro-peace.”

Yesh Atid is the second strongest party in the government following the 22 January general election, holding 19 of the Knesset’s 120 seats.

However, on the Palestinian side there was little enthusiasm for the new Israeli government. Referring to Uri Ariel, a senior member of Mr Bennett’s Jewish Home and the administration’s new housing minister, Xavier Abu Eid, a communications adviser in the PLO’s negotiations department, said that there was little reason for optimism.

“This is a government that has a settler for its housing minister, what’s the reason to be optimistic? Obviously, we cannot select a government for the Israelis, we can only ask them to respect previous agreements and international law.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Oracle DBA (Database Administrator, 10g, 11g, PL/SQL)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + £5k shift allowance, 12% bonus, benefits: Clearwat...

Oracle DBA (Database Administrator, 10g, 11g, PL/SQL)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + £5k shift allowance, 12% bonus, benefits: Clearwat...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Cover Sup...

IT Teacher September strt with view to permanent post

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: IT...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis