Netanyahu Sworn in as Israel's Prime Minister

Haaretz Service
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Haaretz Service

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in late Tuesday to lead Israel's 32nd government, after cobbling together a coalition amid rising tensions within his own Likud party and with other leading political figures.

Lawmakers voted 69 to 45 with five abstentions in favor of Netanyahu's right-wing government after a six-hour debate, making Netanyahu prime minister for the second time in 10 years.

The new coalition will comprise 30 ministers and seven deputy ministers. In addition to serving as premier, Netanyahu has also created a position for himself as financial strategy minister and appointed Yuval Steinitz (Likud) to serve as finance minister.

Lawmaker Silvan Shalom - Netanyahu's chief party rival - agreed on Tuesday to enter the incoming government as vice premier and regional development minister, after days of a chasm many feared would divide the faction and hamper the ability of the new coalition to function.

Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak will retain his position as defense minister bringing with him into the government four other Labor ministers.

Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman, whose inflammatory statements about Israeli Arabs has had him branded as racist and raised ire both in Israel and abroad, will take on the unlikely position of foreign minister.

Shas Chairman Eli Yishai will now serve as interior minister.

Other Likud officials to join the coalition include Ya'akov Ne'eman (Justice Ministry) Gideon Sa'ar (Education), Yisrael Katz (Transportation), Moshe Ya'alon (Strategic Affairs), Gilad Erdan (Environmental Protection), Limor Livnat (Sports and Culture), and Yuli Edelstien (Media and Telecommunications).

Labor minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer will take on the Trade, Labor and Industry portfolio, Shalom Simhon will serve as Agriculture Minister, Labor No. 2 Isaac Herzog will head the Welfare Ministry, and Avishay Braverman has received Labor's fifth ministerial post - minister without portfolio with responsibility for minorities.