Netanyahu finally forms new Israeli coalition
After weeks of angry public exchanges and protracted negotiations, Benjamin Netanyahu finally formed Israel's new government – just hours before the expiry of an extended deadline.
The final announcement was delayed after a dispute over whether the leaders of the two other main parties in the new coalition were to be given the title of deputy prime minister.
The fresh dispute threatened to boil over at one point when negotiators from Mr Bennett's religious right-wing Jewish Home party failed to turn up to final talks after Moshe Leon, from Mr Netanyahu's Likud-Beiteinu, said the prime minister would have no deputies.
The Jewish Home party said Mr Netanyahu's last-minute decision not to appoint any deputy prime ministers – the first time this has happened for 50 years – was a violation of an agreement.
The move by Mr Netanyahu – just two days before the deadline for forming a government – may have been in response to the unbreakable bloc formed by Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party and Jewish Home.
The two parties boxed him into a corner with certain demands, especially the exclusion from the new government of his natural allies in the ultra-orthodox parties.
Mr Lapid insisted during the campaign that Israel's orthodox communities needed to contribute more to society – and especially to complete mandatory military service, from which they are exempt.
"We wanted a broader, more stable coalition and we didn't hide that," Zeev Elkin, of Mr Netanyahu's Likud party, told Israel radio. (© Independent News Service)