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Israeli parliament approves Likud-Kadima coalition deal (BBC) British Broadcasting Company) 9 May 2012 Last updated at 16:10 GMT) Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-18008701
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The Israeli parliament has approved a coalition deal between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu´s Likud party and the Kadima party of Shaul Mofaz.
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The new government will have a majority of 94 in the 120-seat Knesset - one of the biggest in Israeli history.
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The surprise announcement of the deal on Tuesday came after Mr Netanyahu had said he wanted early elections.
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He said the coalition would be "good for security, good for the economy and good for the people of Israel".
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The prime minister also made a commitment to promote a "responsible" peace process with the Palestinians and hold "serious" talks with Mr Mofaz about Iran´s nuclear programme.
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´Cheap politics´ The Kadima leader was immediately sworn in as a minister without portfolio within the prime minister´s office on Wednesday, after the Knesset approved his appointment by 71 votes to 23.
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Mr Mofaz will also serve as one of Mr Netanyahu´s deputy prime ministers.
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Wednesday´s vote followed a lengthy debate in which MKs were allowed to make short speeches. Some opposition members criticised Mr Mofaz for what they called "opportunism" and "cheap politics".
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Only a few weeks ago, Mr Mofaz said the previous coalition represented "all that is wrong with Israel", and in March he pledged never to join it.
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However, opinion polls suggested the number of seats Kadima currently holds might be halved if an election was held later this year.
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On Tuesday, the former defence minister and military chief-of-staff, who became Kadima leader just over a month ago, insisted there were "times in the life of a nation in which it is required to take significant decisions".
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"The time has come to change the agenda. This is a move of unity which is important to Israel´s future," he added.
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According to an outline of the coalition deal, Mr Mofaz will also be a member of the Security Cabinet and Mr Netanyahu´s inner circle - previously known as the Forum of Eight. Kadima will also chair four powerful parliamentary committees, including defence and foreign affairs.
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The prime minister also agreed to support Kadima´s call for changes to the so-called Tal Law, which allows ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students to defer military conscription. Secularists say the law is unfair and in February the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. (© BBC MMXII 05/09/12)
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