Israel's Likud Signs Coalition Deal

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM, Israel - Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel our Home) chairman Avigdor Lieberman signed a coalition deal late Sunday evening, with built-in flexibility should the Kadima and Labor parties decide to join a unity government.

Under the agreement, Lieberman would be appointed foreign minister, replacing outgoing Kadima party chairwoman Tzipi Livni.

Yisrael Beiteinu would also receive the Tourism, National Infrastructure, Immigration/Absorption, and National Security portfolios.

In addition, Yisrael Beiteinu would receive a Foreign Ministry deputy minister position and the chairmanship of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.

Lieberman, who also backs the formation of a unity coalition, expressed his willingness to change the distribution of portfolios should Kadima and Labor change their minds about joining the government.

The agreement includes commitments on civil marriage legislation and on the conversion process, which has been especially difficult for many immigrants from the former Soviet Union, who are not considered Jewish according to halacha (Jewish law).

Likud chief coalition negotiator MK (member of Knesset) Gideon Sa'ar said the talks went well.

"The negotiations were firm, but conducted in good spirits, and this has set the foundation for a good partnership," Sa'ar said.

"The agreement will note that we are interested in a unity government, and should this transpire, there will be changes. We are not shutting the door on unity," he said.

Netanyahu hopes to complete coalition negotiations by Thursday or, at the latest, Monday.

Sources: YNet news, Haaretz 

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