Israel PM set to form new coalition

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planned to sign agreements Thursday to form a government with Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett

Written by New York Times | Jerusalem | Published:March 15, 2013 1:46 am

JODI RUDOREN

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planned to sign agreements Thursday to form a government with Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett,two dynamic,first-time politicians who represent vastly different constituencies but teamed up to turn Israel’s coalition negotiations into a bitter six-week struggle of slights and squabbles.

The new coalition will include 68 of Parliament’s 120 members,from five factions,and be led by 21 ministers,down from 30 in the last government. It excludes ultra-Orthodox parties for the first time since 2005 and one of a few since they were founded,leaving a mix of right-wing nationalists and centre-leftists.

“Essentially,the question is: Will this baby,born of rape,be able to function?” asked Nahum Barnea,a prominent columnist,in Thursday’s Yediot Aharanot newspaper.

Lapid,whose centrist,mostly secular Yesh Atid party shocked the world by winning 19 seats in the January 22 elections,will serve as finance minister.

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