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Israel's PM Netanyahu begins fourth term after parliament upheaval

Prime Minister Netanyahu's cabinet has been sworn during a parliamentary session marrred by controversy . The new coalition government is expected to move oppose reconciliation with the Palestinians.

Two months after Benjamin Netanyahu's re-election, his coalition cabinet narrowly cleared a vote of confidence in parliament, with 59 of the 120 members of parliament, the Knesset, voting against.

Several opposition parliamentarians were escorted out of the hall during the tumultuous session.

It had begun with a two-hour delay as controversy over the allocation of senior cabinet posts had to be resolved behind the scenes.

Gilad Erdan, a senior member of Netanyahu's Likud party, ended up without a cabinet post after he rejected the position as internal security minister - saying it was too junior.

The controversy over the allocation of senior government posts prompted opposition leader Isaac Herzog to call Netanyahu's coalition "no more than a circus," with everybody just seeking to grab as much power as they could.

In the new cabinet, Prime Minister Netanyahu himself will also act as foreign minister, with Tzipi Hotovely, who has called for an annexation of the West Bank, as his deputy. Likud's Moshe Yaalon keeps his defense ministry portfolio and Yisrael Katz, holds on to the transport ministry, which he has headed since 2009.

Arye Deri, head of the Shas party was sworn in as economics minister. He had spent two years in prison for corruption and breach of trust committed while he was interior minister in a previous government.

Netanyahu announced that he would push for electoral reform. "Our governing system encourages exaggerated demands" by potential coalition partners, he said.

Netanyahu's Likud party entered a five-party coalition dominated by right-wing and religious parties and holds a very thin majority of one seat: Likud won 30, the center-right Kulanu party 10, Jewish Home eight, the ultra-orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism seven and six seats respectively.

This coalition government is opposed to reconciliation with the Palestinians and a two-state solution. On the eve of his

re-election on March 17

Netanyahu had promised there would be no Palestinian state while he was in power.

This prompted criticism from

the United States

and other counties.

rg/msh (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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