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Israel’s Knesset approves new government

JTA

March 18, 2013 | 12:13 pm

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during a Likud party meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem on March 18. Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during a Likud party meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem on March 18. Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Israel's Knesset approved the country's 33rd government.

The lawmakers approved the new government by a vote of 68 to 48, with four absent.

Following the vote, the government ministers were sworn in individually, each making a declaration promising to be faithful to the state of Israel and its laws and to fulfill his or her duties as a member of Knesset,

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu introduced his new government earlier in the day during a Knesset plenum session.

In presenting Israel's 33rd government to the Knesset on Monday afternoon, Netanyahu called on the new government to work together with the same spirit of cooperation as the last government, which he also led.

"Our primary concern is to guarantee the future of the Jewish people by guaranteeing the future of the State of Israel, the root of our existence," he told the lawmakers.

The Knesset approved Likud party lawmaker Yuli Edelstein as Knesset speaker, replacing Reuven Rivlin.

During the session, Yisrael Beiteinu head Avigdor Liberman, the former foreign minister, said his party would seek to prevent the renewal of any construction freeze in West Bank settlements.

Prior to Netanyahu's introduction of his new government ministers, members of the haredi Orthodox United Torah Judaism party walked out of the Knesset chambers in an apparent protest at not being included in the new coalition.

Labor Party head Shelly Yachimovich, the opposition leader, in her speech welcomed the new government and told the lawmakers, "We are your opposition. Today we are launching the national debate with you, about what this country is and what is the Zionist vision."

The ceremony included a moment of silence in memory of a former Knesset member Marina Solodkin, who died in Latvia following an anti-facism conference.

The new government includes 68 of the Knesset's 120 parliamentarians. It features Netanyahu's Likud-Beiteinu faction, the Yesh Atid party led by Yair Lapid, the Jewish Home party led by Naphtali Bennett, and Tzipi Livni's Hatnua Party.

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