Israel’s Labor party joins Netanyahu-Gantz unity gov’t

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Israel’s Labor party joins Netanyahu-Gantz unity gov’t
Jerusalem: Israel’s Labour party voted to join a government headed by its long-time rival, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Members of the left-wing Labour’s central committee on Sunday approved to join the unity government being formed by Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party and Benny Gantz and his centrist Blue and White party, Xinhua news agency reported.

Some 64.2 per cent of members of the central committee voted in favour of joining the government, the party said in a statement.

Labour’s leader Amir Peretz announced last week that he agrees to join the new government.

Local media reported that Peretz is planned to serve as the economy minister while another Labor lawmaker, Itzik Smhuli, will serve as labour and social services minister.

The power of the Labour, once Israel’s ruling party, has shrunk dramatically over the past years. In the March 2 election, it ran in a unity with Meretz and Gesher, two other left-wing parties. Altogether, they won seven seats in the 120-seat parliament.

Meretz, which refused to join a government headed by Netanyahu, has split out of the unity and will take the seats of the opposition.

During their elections campaign, Peretz and the Labour had repeatedly vowed not to seat in a government with Netanyahu due to a series of criminal cases in which the long-time leader is a suspect. Netanyahu’s corruption trial is scheduled to begin on May 24.

The new governing coalition will apparently include also Shas and United Torah Judaism, two Jewish ultra-Orthodox parties, and Yemina, a far-right pro-settler party.

Under the power-sharing deal signed a week ago between Netanyahu and Gantz, Netanyahu will serve as a prime minister for 18 months before rotating with Gantz.

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