Barak carries his Labor into Netanyahu government

In a stormy session Tuesday night, March 24, Israel’s Labor party voted to join the government headed by Likud leader, Binyamin Netanyahu. Seven Knesset members tried to torpedo the conference in a tempestuous revolt against Labor leader Ehud Barak’s partnership accord with Netanyahu. Out of 1,191 members, 57.9 percent backed Barak, 42 percent voted against him.
The prime minister has collected 66 Knesset members (out of 120) for his administration on paper. Continuation of the internal Labor revolt continues could pare his majority down to 60-61 deputies, including Israel Beitenu and Shas, and augur a split in Barak’s party.
Still, Netanyahu may opt for presenting this line-up to the president while continuing negotiations with the United Torah Judaism and/or two nationalist parties to build up his government’s majority.
He may also seize the moment and join forces with Labor’s Barak, the Histadrut Trade Unions Federation secretary Ofer Eini and key business figures, with whom he has already put together an emergency economic rescue plan, to form a strong centrist national grouping which would leave the Labor rebels and Tzipi Livni’s Kadima trailing behind in opposition.
Barak retains defense and gains another five cabinet posts for his colleagues, including agriculture, commerce and industry, social welfare and possibly health, as well as two deputy ministerial positions and the chair of a key parliamentary committee – foreign affairs or finance.
Binyamin Netanyahu agreed to respect all former international agreements. There is no reference to the two-state formula espoused by Kadima.
The longstanding pact between the Likud and Labor leaders is explored in debkafile‘s Exclusive Analysis. Click HERE
Monday, Likud and Shas signed their coalition accord, after Israel Beitenu signed on last week assigning foreign affairs to its leader Avigdor Lieberman. Shas came away with four cabinet posts, including interior for its leader Ellie Yishai, housing and the National Lands Authority, as well as a pledge to raise child allowances and allocations for the yeshiva seminaries.

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