Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has informed President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday night that he had succeeded in forming a government with an hour and a half left before the midnight deadline to build a coalition.
He made the announcement after his Likud party reached an agreement with the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party that will give the party the Education and Diaspora Affairs portfolios for its leader Naftali Bennett. MK Uri Ariel will be Agriculture Minister and MK Ayelet Shaked Justice Minister.
“It is not a government for the Right or the Left but for all of the people of Israel,” Bennett said. “I had a good conversation with the prime minister and told him I would be happy to enter a nationalist government under his leadership. I told him we will stand behind him and we will work with all our strength help the government and the country succeed.”
The agreement paved the way for a narrow, 61-member coalition with Kulanu, Shas, and United Torah Judaism.
President Rivlin told Netanyahu he received his letter formally announcing that he had formed a government and wished him well in the final stages of the process, which will be completed next week.
The new government is expected to be sworn in on Monday. Netanyahu said no one should be surprised the process of forming a government succeeded.
The prime minister reiterated his desire to expand the coalition beyond its current 61 members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
“We will build a government that is strong and stable for the people of Israel,” Netanyahu said. “We have work to do.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog in a statement called the new government “the weakest, narrowest, and most prone to extortion coalition in the history of Israel.” He said giving the Justice Ministry to Shaked proved Netanyahu cared more about his political survival than the good of the Israeli people.