Israel Knesset approves new unity government (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) 05/09/12)
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The Knesset on Wednesday approved by 71 votes to 23 an agreement
between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the opposition Kadima
party to form Israel´s seventh national unity government.
The move puts Netanyahu at the helm of one of Israel´s largest ruling
coalitions ever with an overwhelming 94 votes in the 120-seat
Knesset, or parliament.
Immediately after the deal was approved, Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz
was sworn in as a minister within the premier´s office. He will also
serve as one of Netanyahu´s vice prime ministers.
The agreement between Netanyahu and Mofaz, who took over leadership
of the centre-right Kadima only six weeks ago, was announced in the
early hours of Tuesday.
Wednesday´s vote followed a lengthy Knesset session in which
lawmakers were given the opportunity to deliver short speeches on the
deal, and many opposition members lambasted Mofaz for "opportunism"
and "cheap politics."
Mofaz and Netanyahu negotiated the 11th-hour deal as the Knesset was
voting on a motion to end its current session to clear the way for
early elections this September rather than in October 2013 as
Under the deal, Kadima and Netanyahu´s right-wing Likud will replace
by the end of July a contentious law that allowed ultra-Orthodox Jews
to defer their military service, with new legislation that would
ensure a "fair" sharing of the burden of army service.
The deal also involves a commitment to renew the peace process, with
Netanyahu saying he hoped the establishment of a new government would
encourage the Palestinians back to the negotiating table after a
hiatus of more than 20 months.
The deal, which caught both the political establishment and the media
by surprise, is a coup not just for Netanyahu but also for Mofaz, an
Iranian-born former general and armed forces chief of staff who took
over Kadima following faction primaries on March 28.
Although Kadima emerged as the largest party in parliament following
the 2009 elections -- taking 28 seats -- it failed to form a
government, and polls have suggested it stands to lose up to half of
them in any new election. (Copyright © 2012 Agence France Presse.
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