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New Israeli government formed: Netanyahu

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday he had signed agreements with key coalition partners, forming a new government just over 24 hours ahead of a deadline and days before a milestone visit from US President Barack Obama.

The alliance of Netanyahu's Likud party and former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu had been locked in intense negotiations for weeks with the centrist Yesh Atid and far-right Jewish Home parties who together held the key to building a government with a majority in the 120-seat parliament.

"The prime minister welcomes the coalition agreements that have been signed between the Likud and Yisrael Beitenu and the Yesh Atid party and the Jewish Home," a statement from Netanyahu's office said on Friday afternoon, about an hour before the start of the Jewish Sabbath, which ends on Saturday evening.

"On Saturday evening, the prime minister will inform President Shimon Peres that he has completed the task" of forming a government, the statement said.

Netanyahu had a legal deadline of Saturday evening to come up with a coalition or admit defeat.

The new cabinet is expected to be sworn in before the parliament on Monday, 48 hours before the arrival of US President Barack Obama on his first visit since being elected in 2008.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130315/new-israeli-government-formed-netanyahu