Israel PM unveils coalition deal with KadimaAgence France-Presse . Jerusalem
The prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Tuesday struck a surprise deal with the opposition Kadima party to form what will be Israel’s largest-ever coalition government, axing plans for a snap election.
The agreement to form what will be Israel’s seventh national unity government will be put to a vote in the Knesset later on Tuesday, officials said.
The move will put Netanyahu at the helm of a ruling coalition with 94 votes in the 120-seat parliament, the largest-ever majority for a government in Israel.
Under the agreement, Shaul Mofaz, who took over leadership of the centre-right Kadima party only six weeks ago, would become vice prime minister as well as a minister within the premier’s office, a draft of the deal showed.
Mofaz will reportedly be sworn in on Wednesday.
The two men negotiated the 11th-hour deal as the Knesset was voting on a motion to end its current session to clear the way for early elections this
Speaking at a joint news conference with Mofaz, Netanyahu said the agreement would give greater stability to the coalition, which is led by his rightwing Likud party.
‘When I thought the stability of my coalition was being undermined, I was willing to go to elections. When I saw I could form a broad coalition (of 94 MPs) I realised I could return the stability without going to elections,’ he said.
Mofaz said Kadima’s decision to remain in opposition for the past three years was ‘a historic mistake.’
‘Today we are correcting it,’ he said.
Over the past few months, Mofaz has launched several attacks on Netanyahu, notably accusing him and his defence minister Ehud Barak of manipulating the threat of a nuclear Iran to score political points and to scare the Israeli public.
Asked about the differences between his view on Iran and that of Mofaz, Netanyahu said the issue would be handled in a ‘serious and responsible’ manner.
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