Israeli government sworn in after rocky start

May 14, 2015, 2:00 PM

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government was sworn in late Thursday after a two-hour delay amid heckling by Arab lawmakers and harsh criticism from the opposition, indicating a tough road ahead for his narrow coalition.

Almost two months after winning Israel’s election, Netanyahu presented his new Cabinet to parliament ahead of a celebratory swearing-in ceremony. But the proceedings were delayed following a request from Netanyahu’s office, reportedly due to last-minute disputes over ministerial appointments.

Netanyahu delivered a brief speech outlining his government’s goals, which he said would include striving for peace with the Palestinians. With the coalition dominated by hard-liners who oppose concessions to the Palestinians, his remarks drew laughter and heckling from Arab lawmakers, eventually prompting three members to be escorted out and others to walk out in protest.

“Something here doesn’t work well,” Parliament Speaker Yuli Edelstein said at the opening of the session. He said that “under the circumstances” there was little to celebrate at the normally festive occasion.

The stormy session was the latest sign of the troubles Netanyahu faces as he begins a fourth term as prime minister.

Although Netanyahu’s Likud Party captured 30 seats in the March 17 election, making it the largest party, he struggled to cobble together a majority coalition in the 120-seat parliament. It took him the full six weeks permitted by law to put together a coalition with just 61 seats, the slimmest majority possible.

The coalition includes two ultra-Orthodox religious parties and the centrist Kulanu — whose agendas are heavily focused on internal affairs. In last-minute negotiations, the nationalist Jewish Home Party, which is affiliated with the West Bank settler movement, extracted major concessions from Netanyahu.

The influence of Jewish Home, along with the dominance of settler allies in Likud, makes it unlikely that Netanyahu will be able to make any bold peace initiatives. Netanyahu staked out hard-line positions during the campaign, saying he would not allow the creation of a Palestinian state on his watch. Although he later backtracked, the comments raised tensions with the U.S., which has made the establishment of a Palestinian state a top foreign policy goal.

With even a single disgruntled partner capable of bringing down the government, Netanyahu said he was “leaving the door open” for other parties to widen the coalition, and he has left the prestigious job of foreign minister vacant. Netanyahu said the current political system needs to be reformed to prevent frequent elections.

Opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog rejected the prime minister’s offer to join his coalition. He said it was “not a happy day” and called Netanyahu’s government “a circus.”

Herzog also criticized the lack of any political horizon with the Palestinians and predicted the government would not last long.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

World News

Ukrainian servicemen carry the coffin with the remains of Army Col. Oleksander Makhachek during a f...
Associated Press

As Ukraine loses troops, how long can it keep up the fight?

ZHYTOMYR (AP) — As soon as they had finished burying a veteran colonel killed by Russian shelling, the cemetery workers readied the next hole. Inevitably, given how quickly death is felling Ukrainian troops on the front lines, the empty grave won’t stay that way for long. Col. Oleksandr Makhachek left behind a widow, Elena, and […]
23 days ago
(Instagram photo/@Clayton.Wolfe)...
Wills Rice

Arizona realtor announces new listing on ‘the top-floor’ of Mount Everest

Arizona realtor Clayton Wolfe scaled the treacherous 29,035-foot heights of Mount Everest in Nepal and announced a new listing at the summit.
24 days ago
(Photo by: Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

‘Tiger King’ star ‘Doc’ Antle arrested for money laundering charges

“Tiger King” star “Doc” Antle was arrested by the FBI and expected to appear in court Monday to face federal money laundering charges.
24 days ago
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
Associated Press

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in Israel for talks with political and business leaders

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is in Israel for five days of talks with political and business leaders of the Middle Eastern country.
1 month ago
A man rides a bicycle in front of a building ruined by shelling in Borodyanka, on the outskirts of ...
Associated Press

Russia takes steps to bolster army, tighten grip on Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an order Wednesday to fast track Russian citizenship for residents of parts of southern Ukraine largely held by his forces, while lawmakers in Moscow passed a bill to strengthen the stretched Russian army. Putin’s decree applying to the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions could allow Russia to […]
1 month ago
FILE - McDonald's restaurant is seen in the center of Dmitrov, a Russian town 75 km., (47 miles) no...
Associated Press

De-Arching: McDonald’s to sell Russia business, exit country

McDonald’s is closing its doors in Russia, ending an era of optimism and increasing the country’s isolation over its war in Ukraine. The Chicago burger giant confirmed Monday that it is selling its 850 restaurants in Russia. McDonald’s said it will seek a buyer who will employ its 62,000 workers in Russia, and will continue […]
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
Israeli government sworn in after rocky start