Israel’s Knesset approves new government
JERUSALEM — Israel's Knesset approved the country's 33rd government.
The lawmakers approved the new government on Monday by a vote of 68 to 48, with four absent.
Following the vote, the government ministers were sworn in individually, each promising to be faithful to the State of Israel and its laws, and to fulfill his or her duties as a member of Knesset.
The new government includes 68 of the Knesset's 120 parliamentarians. It features Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud-Beiteinu faction, the Yesh Atid party led by Yair Lapid, the Jewish Home party led by Naphtali Bennett, and Tzipi Livni's Hatnua Party.
Netanyahu had introduced the new government earlier in the day during a Knesset plenum session. He called on the lawmakers to work together with the same spirit of cooperation as the last government, which also was led by Netanyahu.
"Our primary concern is to guarantee the future of the Jewish people by guaranteeing the future of the State of Israel, the root of our existence," he told the lawmakers.
The Knesset approved Likud party lawmaker Yuli Edelstein as Knesset speaker, replacing Reuven Rivlin.
During the session, Yisrael Beiteinu head Avigdor Liberman, the former foreign minister, said his party would seek to prevent the renewal of any construction freeze in West Bank settlements.
Prior to Netanyahu's introduction of his new government ministers, members of the haredi Orthodox United Torah Judaism party walked out of the Knesset chambers in an apparent protest at not being included in the new coalition.
Labor Party head Shelly Yachimovich, the opposition leader, in her speech welcomed the new government and told the lawmakers, "We are your opposition. Today we are launching the national debate with you, about what this country is and what is the Zionist vision."
The ceremony included a moment of silence in memory of former Knesset member Marina Solodkin, who died in Latvia following an anti-fascism conference.
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement, congratulating Netanyahu on forming a new governing coalition.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to congratulate Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the formation of a new governing coalition.
“Canada values its long-standing relationship with Israel – based on shared values, common interests and strong political, economic, cultural and social ties – and will continue to support Israel and its right to live in peace and security with its neighbours.
“I look forward to working with the new government to continue to deepen the friendship between our two countries and enhance our bilateral cooperation, including on pressing global and regional security challenges.
“I wish the Prime Minister and his cabinet success in their roles, and convey our best wishes to the people of Israel.”