The coalition agreement between the Likud and the new Independent faction was signed Tuesday morning following intensive talks held all night between Barak's representative, Minister Shalom Simhon, and Coalition Chairman Zeev Elkin.
According to the agreement, Simhon will be upgraded to the position of industry, trade and labor minister and Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai will become in charge of the Home Front and the minorities. The two will also serve as observers in the Political-Security Cabinet.
MK Orit Noked will be appointed agriculture minister, and MK Einat Wilf will serve as the faction's chairwoman. In October 2011, Wilf will be appointed chairwoman of the Knesset's Education Committee. The Likud has also promised to support the Labor candidacy for the Jewish National Fund chairmanship.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold on to the Social Services portfolio, following the resignation of Minister Isaac Herzog.
The agreement is pending the approval of Netanyahu and Barak, who will then ask the government to vote in favor of the new ministers' appointments. If all goes well, they will be sworn in at the Knesset.
Meanwhile, four of the eight remaining Labor MKs – Amir Peretz, Eitan Cabel, Daniel Ben-Simon and Raleb Majadele – are expected to announce whether they plan to stay in the faction or quit and form a new one. The four were expected to meet at the Knesset on Tuesday morning and make a final decision.
Roni Sofer contributed to this report
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