Israel: Coalition government deal signed

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the Likud-Beiteinu faction meeting at the Knesset (Israel's parliament) on Mar. 14, 2013, in Jerusalem.

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has signed a coalition agreement with rival political parties that will allow Israel to form a new coalition government, the Associated Press reported.

"The prime minister welcomes the coalition agreements that have been signed between the Likud and Yisrael Beitenu [on one side] and the Yesh Atid party and the Jewish Home," Netanyahu’s office said in a statement, according to Agence France-Presse.

GlobalPost's senior correspondent in Israel, Noga Tarnopolsky, said there is also a fourth party in the coalition, the first to sign on, Hatnua headed by former Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni.

The deal had been delayed for weeks as the parties argued over reforming the military draft law and who would control which ministries. Just yesterday, a disagreement threatened to derail the agreement.

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If the coalition had not been formed by March 16, Israel would have been required to hold a new election.

GlobalPost's Tarnopolsky reports that "most observers think this may be a pretty short-lived government. It's not clear how much governing policy the three main parties actually have in common."

According to BBC News, centrist party Yesh Atid will head the finance and education ministries; far-right party Jewish Home will lead housing and industry and trade; and Likud will control the defense and interior ministries. Netanyahu remains prime minister.

The new Israeli government is expected to be sworn in on Monday — two months after citizens voted in parliamentary elections.

Noga Tarnopolsky contributed to this report from Jerusalem.