Netanyahu coalition passes 1st test as Knesset votes to expand Israeli cabinet

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to After a raucous five-hour debate on Monday, the Israeli Knesset voted 61-59 in favor of an amendment that would enable Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition government to have 20 cabinet ministers instead of 18.

Monday marked the first reading of the bill. The Knesset also approved the establishment of a special committee that would prepare the bill for its second and third readings. It is believed the final vote on the bill will take place by Wednesday night or Thursday at the latest.

After the bill passed its first reading, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein announced that Netanyahu would be able to form a government, giving the prime minister a week to have the government sworn in. Opposition parties continued their attacks against the bill, with Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog saying, “For two months, Netanyahu has not been able to form a government and bring it to the Knesset for approval. I’m saying, as I’ve said for a while, that we need to look into the feasibility of an alternative government.”

In a statement, Netanyahu’s Likud party said that increasing the number of ministers “saves money by bolstering governmental stability.”

“The several million shekels it costs to add two ministers is negligible compared to the billions spent when the country goes to elections every two years,” Likud said.

Posted on May 12, 2015 .