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March 18, 2013 12:06 pm

Netanyahu Presents New Government: We Have “An Amazing Opportunity,” But Face Many External Challenges

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Benjamin Netanyahu presents his new government. Photo: Knesset Channel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented Israel’s 33rd government on Monday, after six weeks of negotiations came to a conclusion late last week.

In a speech to the Knesset Netanyahu thanked Israelis for electing him. “Our existence here cannot be taken for granted… and our presence here is not accidental,” he said, according to the Times of Israel.

Netanyahu also said that the new government has “an amazing opportunity” to meet the hopes of many Israelis, but added “we can’t ignore external challenges. We have to ensure the existence of Israel.” Iran is “getting close” to “the red line I drew last September,” he said, while warning that Syria’s WMDs must “not fall into the hands of terrorists.”

As for the peace process, Netanyahu said that “We stretch out our hand to the Palestinians” and are ready for a “historic compromise” for real peace, to end the conflict “once and for all,” adding that there must be painful compromise on both sides for an agreement to be reached.

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Near the end of the speech, while reading through his list of ministers, members of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party walked out in protest of their exclusion from the government.

This wasn’t the only display of criticism directed at the new government. Opposition leader and Labor chair Shelly Yachimovich  spoke, calling Netanyahu’s coalition “old, and familiar, and not terribly pleasant.”

Many in the coalition have good intentions, she said. “But the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

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