JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition government was approved and sworn in.
Netanyahu was continuously heckled as he introduced his new Cabinet to a Thursday night session of Knesset. Several Knesset members were removed from the chamber due to their disruptions.
The vote on the new Cabinet passed 61-59, the exact numerical breakdown of the coalition and the opposition.
The session started two hours late as Netanyahu worked to distribute the ministerial positions to members of his Likud Party. He kept four portfolios for himself, including foreign minister, saying in his inaugural address: “I am leaving the door open for broadening the government. The country needs this.” He added, to opposition leader Isaac Herzog, “I assume that the leader of the opposition won’t enter the government, but we must come together to change the system.”
Herzog rebuffed Netanyahu’s overtures, saying: “No decent leader would join the ‘Netanyahu circus’ that you put together at the last minute, on the strength of one seat, only to extend your rule.”
A bill was passed by Knesset on Wednesday to allow Netanyahu to increase the number of government ministers from its current limit of 18. There are 20 ministers and four deputy ministers in the new Cabinet.