Netanyahu finalises govt team for Israel parliament vote

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was preparing on Thursday to put his proposed cabinet line-up to a confidence vote in parliament, where his coalition commands a razor-thin majority.

After two months of coalition horsetrading, Netanyahu was to present his government for a vote of confidence at the Knesset in a session which begins at 1600 GMT.

The lineup is dominated by rightwing and religious parties and commands a slender majority of 61 of the parliament’s 120 seats, with commentators warning it was vulnerable to the slightest headcold or whim of a disgruntled MP.

Netanyahu’s new administration marks a shift to the right by giving increased prominence to Naftali Bennett’s far-right Jewish Home, which opposes a Palestinian state and strongly backs settlement activity.

The move looks likely to complicate Israel’s already damaged relationship with the Palestinians and further strain ties with the international community.

Earlier this week, the coalition passed its first test of strength after managing to pass an amendment to a law which would have limited the number of ministers serving under Netanyahu to 18.

The amendment was crucial for Netanyahu to have a free hand in being able to hand out enough portfolios to senior members of his rightwing Likud party, in a process which began immediately after the bill passed its final reading on Wednesday evening.

Netanyahu’s five-party alliance was built over weeks of intensive negotiations which saw him forced to hand out senior ministerial portfolios to coalition partners in a move which has fostered resentment in his own party.

On Thursday, Netanyahu was putting the finishing touches on his new administration by allocating portfolios and the chairmanship of Knesset committees to Likud.

Source: The Guardian