Israel's Netanyahu Builds Coalition Gov't

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JERUSALEM - Israel's conservative Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu will soon be able to form a government after a key vote by the liberal Labor party.

In a stormy and sharply divided meeting Tuesday, the Labor party voted to follow its leader, Ehud Barak, and join forces with Netanyahu.

Click the player to watch the report from CBN News Mideast Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell followed by Pat Robertson's comments about the new Israeli government.

Labor's vote to join the coalition will allow Netanyahu to present his government in the next few days. He's likely to have a majority of 65 to 70 members in the 120-member Knesset.

Barak Will Continue as Defense Minister

Barak will keep his position as defense minister in the new government and several other party members will get cabinet posts. The Likud party also agreed to continue negotiating with the Palestinians and to honor agreements signed by previous Israeli governments.

Barak must work to calm the nerves of Labor activists who want no part of Netanyahu or Israel Beiteinu party leader Avigdor Lieberman, who signed a coalition deal this week.

All Party Members Expected to Join

Despite threats of a Labor party split, it is expected that Barak will bring all 13 of the party's Knesset members into the coalition.

"It was my position and I believe it's a great victory to the chairman of the party and it's important to the state of Israel, and I'm sure that the next government will be much stronger when Labor will be a part of it," said Matan Vilnai, Labor Knesset member.

Netanyahu wanted the broadest possible government in order to deal with iran's nuclear threat and terrorism by Iran's proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas. Israel needs a stable government to deal with the growing economic crisis as well. Netanyahu's outreach to Labor may also help him in Washington, where some have tried to portray him as an extremist.

The new coalition now includes four of Israel's five largest parties. Only Kadima, led by Tzipi Livni, is left in the opposition.

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CBN News
Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell

CBN News Mideast Bureau Chief

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