Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fourth government was sworn in Thursday night at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, after he appointed the final cabinet positions.
Following introductory remarks by Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, Netanyahu addressed the assembly saying that his government would pursue peace. He went on to say that he was leaving open the option for expanding the government. He also said that his new government must change the electoral system in Israel.
Five parties are in the coalition government : Likud, Kulanu, Jewish Home, Shas and United Torah Judaism with a 61-seat majority out of 120.
Netanyahu listed his cabinet members in his Knesset speech.
- The Prime Minister himself will hold the foreign, health, communications and regional cooperation portfolios.
- David Azoulay (Shas) – minister of religious services
- Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) – minister of immigration and absorption, and strategic affairs
- Ofir Akunis (Likud) – minister (no specific office)
- Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) – minister of agriculture and rural development
- Benny Begin (Likud) – minister (no specific office)
- Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) – minister of education, Jerusalem and diaspora affairs. (Netanyahu notes that any issues related to Jerusalem will be transferred to the Prime Minister’s Office)
- Avi Gabbay (Kulanu) – minister of environmental protection
- Yoav Galant (Kulanu) – ministry of housing and construction
- Gila Gamliel (Likud) – minister of senior citizens and minister of gender equality
- Danny Danon (Likud) – minister of science, technology and space
- Aryeh Deri (Shas) – minister of economy
- Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) – defence minister
- Yisrael Katz (Likud) – minister of transportation and road safety, and minister of intelligence
- Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) – minister of finance
- Haim Katz (Likud) – minister of welfare and social services
- Yariv Levin (Likud) – minister of tourism and minister of public security
- Miri regev (Likud) – minister of culture and sports
- Yuval Steinitz (Likud) – minister of national infrastructure, energy and water
- Silvan Shalom (Likud) – deputy prime minister and interior minister
- Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) – ministry of justice
Press reports said that Netanyahu was holding on to the foreign affairs portfolio in hopes of possibly enticing the Zionist Union’s Isaac Herzog into the coalition in a later stage but Herzog makes clear in his Knesset speech that he will under no circumstances join Netanyahu’s “circus.”
“I advise you Mr. Prime Minister not to hold onto the Foreign Ministry, give it tonight to a member of your party,” he says.
“No fair leader would join the Netanyahu circus you have formed at the last moment, at any price, just to stay in power,” he adds.
He told Netanyahu that his coalition partners “pick pocketed” him, extracting wide-spread concessions from the prime minister.
“You did not form a government, you formed a circus,” Herzog says.
In its guidelines presented earlier this week, Netanyahu’s new coalition government stressed its desire to achieve peace with the Palestinians and Arab states.
“The government will advance the diplomatic process and strive to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians and all our neighbors, while maintaining Israel’s security, historical and national interests,” read the coalition guidelines presented to parliament.
“The Jewish people have the indisputable right to a sovereign state in the Land of Israel, its national and historic homeland,” they said.
“Any such agreement would be submitted to the Knesset for approval and if necessary by law, to a referendum.”
The rest of the government policy outline deals with issues such as reducing the cost of living, improving competition in the Israeli economy, boosting education and protecting the environment.
The guidelines are not inherently different to those published by Netanyahu for his two previous governments, formed in 2009 and 2013.
What are the guidelines of the 34th government ?
- The Jewish people have an undeniable right to a sovereign state in the land of Israel — their national and historic homeland.
- Advance the peace process and work toward achieving peace agreements with the Palestinians and with all our neighbours while maintaining Israel’s security, historical and national interests. Should such an agreement be reached, it will be brought before the government and the Knesset for approval, and possibly submitted to a referendum vote, if legally required.
- Protect the Jewish character and heritage of the State of Israel while honoring all religions and religious traditions in the state in accordance with the values outlined in the Declaration of Independence.
- Act to ensure national security and a sense of personal security for all citizens, while decisively combating violence and terrorism.
- Take action to lower the cost of living, with an emphasis on the housing, food and energy markets.
- Combat the centralization of power in the banking, insurance and investment industries, among others.
- Promote professional training and education in the technology fields in order to satisfy the current needs of the industry.
- Take action to minimize the wealth gap in Israeli society by way of equal opportunities in education, a stronger health system, advancement of women and minorities, treatment of the elderly, a war on poverty and an increase in assistance for the poor.
- Make the advancement of the geographical and social periphery in Israel a national priority.
- Advance the development of the Galilee and the Negev.
- Place education at the top of the national priority list.
- Advance university students, soldiers and teens.
- Integrate people with disabilities of all kinds into the fabric of society.
- Take action to increase assistance to families with very young children.
- Make the issue of immigration and immigrant absorption a priority and work to encourage immigration to Israel.
- Modify the system of government to increase governance and government stability and advance reforms in the area of governance to improve government stability.
- Solidify the rule of law in the State of Israel.
- Protect the environment and take part in global efforts on climate and environmental issues.
The author is Yossi Lempkowicz, Senior Advisor at Europe Israel Press Association.
This article was published on the website of Europe Israel Press Association (http://eipa.eu.com/) on May 14th 2015