Photo Credit:
LapidBenjamin Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett

A new government coalition finally took form Wednesday night and is expected to officially take the reins on Monday.

Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett mediated a crisis between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, who had refused to back down from his demands for the Interior and education ministries.

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Netanyahu has agreed to replace Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar with a Yesh Atid Knesset Member, Rabbi Shai Piron, while his deputy minster will be a Likud MK.

Lapid gave up his demand for the Interior Ministry, which apparently will be taken over by Sa’ar, and Bennett won his demand for the Jewish Home party to head the powerful Knesset Finance Committee. Lapid will be Finance Minister.

Amir Peretz, who ditched Labor to join Tzipi Livni’s party, will hold a Cabinet post, probably as Environment Minister.

The Jewish Home party will have three ministers, with Bennett taking over the portfolio of Industry and Trade. Most significantly, Jewish Home MK Uri Ariel may head the Housing Ministry, which is a key in building in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as well as in regulation of illegal Arab and Bedouin construction in Israel.

Netanyahu will act as Foreign Minister. He has reserved the post for current Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in case he wins an acquittal in a criminal charge against him.

Moshe Ya’alon will be Defense Minister and Shaul Mofaz and his two-seat Kadima will not be in the coalition, leaving four parties in the government – Likud Beiteinu, Jewish Home, Yesh Atid and Tzipi Livni’s “Movement” party, with a combined total of 68 seats, seven more than a majority.

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