Israel’s government is official: Habayit Hayehudi and Likud sign coalition deal

Habayit Hayehudi and Likud signed a coalition deal on Thursday morning, hours after managing to reach agreement for the formation of the next government just before the midnight deadline.

Chairman Naftali Bennett will serve as education minister and MK Ayelet Shaked will be justice minister; she will also head the powerful Ministerial Committee for Legislation and the Judicial Appointments Committee and is expected to head Justice Ministry when the next attorney general is appointed.

MK Uri Ariel will become agriculture minister, giving Habayit Hayehudi control over the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division, which is used to fund infrastructure for West Bank settlements. Ariel will also be responsible for Bedouin affairs. The party will also be allowed to name a deputy defense minister from its ranks.

As part of the agreement, the education budget will be raised by 630 million shekels (163.4 million), 1 billion shekel (250 million dollars) will be allocated for raising the salaries of soldiers in their third year, and the Ariel University budget will be raised. In addition, the NGO bill will likely be passed, a focus will be made on improving accessibility for disabled in educational institution, on security measures for transportation in the West Bank, and on strengthening missions in the periphery.

"After a long and sleepless night, we’ve finalized the coalition deal with the Likud, en route to a new government. Now we’re getting to work," Shaked said on Thursday morning.

After agreeing just before midnight to joining the coalition, Bennett announced: “There is a government in Israel. It’s not a government for people on the right or the left or the center, but for all the people of Israel.”

“We are behind you,” Bennett told the prime minister. “We will work with all our might for the success of the state and the government you head, because we have no other country. This government will be able to finish out its term. We will roll up our sleeves to make it happen.”

MK Ze’ev Elkin, a member of the Likud negotiating team, said the two parties would work through the night to resolve minor issues and finalize the coalition agreement.

The 34th government, the fourth one led by Netanyahu, will scrape by with a bare majority of 61 MKs out of 120, which will make it difficult to advance the ambitious agenda that many of its members have set for it.


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