Agreement on a new coalition government in Israel has been reached after weeks of negotiations, according a spokeswoman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The coalition includes three political parties.
Netanyahu's Likud party is to be officially joined in a coalition by the centrist Yesh Atid and far-right Jewish Home parties in a ceremony on Thursday afternoon. A smaller, centrist party led by former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will also be included.
Ahead of the ceremony, a spokeswoman for Likud told Reuters “there is a government.” Other sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity until the formal announcement, confirmed that a coalition agreement had been reached.
The coalition looks set to control 68 seats in Israel's 120-member parliament.
Outside role for ultra-Orthodox allies
In elections in January, the centrist parties made considerable gains on Netanyahu's Likud party, forcing him to leave his traditional, ultra-Orthodox allies out of the next coalition.
A March 16 deadline was looming for Netanyahu to reach an agreement on a government. Had this deadline been missed, another party leader would have been given the chance to form a government.
Netanyahu must still formally notify President Shimon Peres of the coalition agreement. The parliament will then likely be sworn in on Monday – two days ahead of a visit by US President Barack Obama.
mz/ipj (AFP, AP, Reuters)