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May 10, 2015 1:51 pm

Netanyahu Faces Challenging Week as Coalition Government Set to be Sworn In

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Israel's Knesset. Photo: Tazpit News Agency. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a politically challenging week during which his new government, based on a narrow 61-member coalition, is set to be sworn in.

The prime minister will face a tough test this week by attempting to pass a bill that would permit an increase in the number of government ministers, and distributing ministerial portfolios among Likud members.

On Sunday, the cabinet, which currently comprises only Likud and Jewish Home (Habayit Hayehudi) ministers from the last government, approved a bill that would enable the incoming government to have 20 ministers, instead of the 18 mandated in a law passed by the last government. With the cabinet’s approval, the bill will be sent to the Knesset on Monday.

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In the Knesset, the absence of only one coalition MK could thwart the passage of the bill, so a concerted effort is being made to ensure that all Likud, Jewish Home, Kulanu, Shas and United Torah Judaism MKs will be present for all the votes on the bill.

Opposition parties plan to conduct a fierce fight against the bill. On Friday, Yesh Atid sent letters to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein in which it said it would submit a petition against the bill to the High Court of Justice. The letter called the bill “a severe and fatal blow to the democratic norms in the State of Israel and the fabric of checks and balances between the executive and legislative authorities.”

By Monday, Netanyahu is also expected to finish his round of meetings with Likud MKs, ahead of his distribution of ministerial portfolios to his party’s members, which will probably begin either Monday or Tuesday.

Several Likud MKs have threatened to not show up at the swearing-in of the new government on Wednesday if they do not receive ministerial portfolios, something that could prevent the new government from being sworn in, given the coalition’s narrow majority.

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