New Israeli government sworn in

March 18, 2013 at 7:20 PM
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JERUSALEM, March 18 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's new ministers were approved by the Knesset and sworn in Monday.

Ultra-conservative orthodox lawmakers made their displeasure with Netanyahu clear by walking out on his speech, Ynetnews, The Jerusalem Post and Haaretz reported.

Israel's 33rd government was approved on a 68-48 vote with four members absent, with United Torah Judaism Knesset Member Yisrael Eichler calling out during the vote he was "opposed to the evil government," Ynetnews said. The party's members later walked out while Netanyahu spoke, returning later.

Netanyahu, who heads the government for a third time, said the job "carries the supreme responsibility of the fate of the one and only Jewish state."

"Our existence here is not self evident and our presence here is not incidental," he said, adding he has put together "an experienced team side-by-side with a fresh young group [of people] and this combination can lead to great changes in Israel, changes expected by the people, first and foremost a dramatic increase of the sharing of the national burden, dramatically reducing the cost of living, reducing the housing prices and increasing housing supply."

Opposition Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich of the Labor Party also criticized the governing coalition.

"You are a wealthy, satiated leadership, who may physically be sitting among the people but who fails to understand the people," Yachimovich said, deriding Netanyahu and his associates as "capitalists" who "come from privileged backgrounds and have never struggled to make a living."

Haaretz reported Meretz leader Zahava Gal-On told the Knesset the new government is dominated by the right wing.

"The big winners are the settlers, who took over the economic and real estate-related decision making," she said. "They will continue to transfer government funds across the green line.

"In fact, the new government will do a lot for the settlers and not much at all for the rest of Israeli society."

Netanyahu's appointments included those of former Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz as minister of international relations, former army Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon as defense minister, Silvan Shalom as minister of energy and Gideon Sa'ar as interior minister.

The last two appointments, about 2 a.m., were those of Steinitz and Shalom.

Steinitz, among other things, will be charged with handling nuclear issues and strategic dialogue with the United States. He also joins the country's peace negotiating team.

The appointments were reported by the Times of Israel, Yedioth Ahronoth and

Yair Lapid will be the next finance minister, Naftali Bennet becomes minister of trade and commerce and religious affairs, Tzipi Livni will be justice minister and head negotiations with the Palestinians, Yaacov Perry will be science and technology minister, and Yair Shamir, son of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, will be minister of agriculture.

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