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News Brief

May 1, 2006
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Ehud Olmert’s Kadima Party joined forces with Shas, garnering enough strength for an Israeli coalition government. Kadima and the Sephardi Orthodox faction signed a coalition deal Sunday, bringing 67 of the Knesset’s 120 seats under the prime minister’s control — a crucial majority for implementing his planned West Bank withdrawals. The new government is expected to be sworn in Thursday, after Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. Kadima’s other coalition partners so far are the Labor Party and pensioners’ party, Gil. Shas is expected to get four Cabinet portfolios: Industry, Trade and Labor, Communication, and two ministers without portfolios, one of whom will be minister at the Prime Minster’s Office in charge of religious services. The signing was enabled partly by an amendment Olmert made to wording regarding West Bank withdrawals. Olmert, however, rejected Shas’ demand to include the Israel Land Administration as part of the Industry, Labor and Trade portfolio. He also rejected the demand to place Shas’ second minister without portfolio at the Education Ministry.

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