(JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and coalition partners Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett have signed agreements on forming a new government, which will be sworn in on Sunday.
Lapid and Bennett — leaders of the Yesh Atid and Jewish Home parties, respectively — signed the contract with Netanyahu on Friday, ending negotiations that had been underway since the Jan. 22 election. The coalition will include 68 of the Knesset’s 120 parliamentarians. The other paries are Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua and the Likud-Beiteinu faction led by Netanyahu.
The last hurdle in talks was crossed on Thursday when Bennett and Lapid agreed to back down on their demand for the largely ceremonious titles of deputy prime minister, according to Army Radio. Bennett and Lapid agreed to surrender the titles "out of respect for the prime minister," the Jerusalem Post reported, adding that the new government under Netanyahu was expected to be sworn in on Sunday, the deadline for a new government.
At a Likud-Beiteinu faction meeting Thursday, Netanyahu said the job of building a coalition was nearly complete and that the party got the “most important portfolios” — foreign and defense.
"This is the Cabinet of great opportunties and we won’t miss it," Bennett is quoted as saying after the signing. "We promised to take care of the cost of living, to make markets more competetive and to return the Jewish soul. And now we have all the tools to do it."