Following the disputes and rifts which plagued the prolonged coalition negotiations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the coalition factions on Monday to show unity.
"There are fine people here, talented people, interesting people. The only way to success is through cooperation," Netanyahu said at the opening of the first government meeting.
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He promised to encourage dialogue around the government's table: "Israeli citizens are looking to us to work together and achieve our aims."
First cabinet meeting (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
The new Finance Minister Yair Lapid admitted on his way to the meeting: "On his first day in the Knesset my father bought a briefcase, so I came with his briefcase. I'm very excited."
Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett declared: " Today a government of opportunities was established, which will bring about an economy which will serve the public and not the other way around. I'm enthusiastic for the challenge."
Finance minister with father's briefcase (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Minister for International Affairs Yuval Steinitz: "I'm happy to contribute in affairs of national security, affairs always at the center of interests."
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said: "It's going to be complicated. We'll find a way to promote a peace process, and I hope we'll do well."
Earlier on Monday, the 33rd government was approved in the Knesset with 68 voting in favor of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, 48 opposed and four MKs absent from the vote.
United Torah Judaism Knesset Member Yisrael Eichler called out during the vote: "Opposed to the evil government." The 21 ministers, eight deputy ministers and the prime minister were then sworn in. MK Reuven Rivlin left the plenum as Netanyahu was sworn in.Earlier Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled his new government before the 22 new ministers swear an oath to the State and the Knesset.
Netanyahu, Lapid and Shay Piron (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The plenum session commenced with the confirmation of MK Yuli Edelstein's appointment as the Knesset speaker.
Netanyahu then took to the podium where he presented his government's guidelines. "I would like to thank the citizens if Israel for giving me the incredible opportunity of leading the country for the third time," the prime minister said.
"The prime minister of Israel 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."
Netanyahu pledged his government will work for the benefit of all Israelis, and stressed the issues they will face: "We have 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."
The prime minister's speech was interrupted when Knesset Members from the United Torah Judaism Party left the Knesset plenum en masse. As Netanyahu read out the names of Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett, Uri Ariel and Uri Orbach, the United Torah Judaism members left the Knesset plenum calling out "a Jew doesn't banish a Jew."
Haredi MKs leaving the plenum
They returned when Netanyahu finished his speech.
Then it was Opposition Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich's (Labor) turn to speak. "You are a wealthy, satiated leadership, who may physically be sitting among the people but who fails to understand the people.
Yachimovich added: "The four of you; Netanyahu, Lapid, Bennett and Livni – are well off, come from privileged backgrounds and have never struggled to make a living. You are all capitalists."
The plenum during the PM's speech (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Regarding the cost of living Yachimovich said that "it's about the right for a normal life which isn't only about survival. The right for a respectful life, the right for economy, the right for justice for poor and rich, the right for a roof over our head, the right to go the cinema, to travel abroad once every few years, to guitar lessons for your kid, computer games, the right to buy pudding, chicken, avocado, the right to a full fridge and a family dinner."
Next at the podium was United Torah Judaism MK Yaakov Litzman, who accused the coalition of deliberately excluding the haredi parties. "The only thing wrong with me is that I have a beard and side curls. So what's my problem? That I dress this way. I'm sure that if I shaved my beard I would have kept my position."
Netanyahu and Livni (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Regarding the equal share of the national burden, Litzman said: "No one negotiated with us about it. Anyway, burden-shmurden – no one will enlist. Do not be fooled."
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