Jewish Home makes it official with Likud deal
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Jewish Home makes it official with Likud deal

Final agreement for Orthodox-nationalist party to join coalition includes more funding for soldiers, schools and settlements

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett shake hands in this image released by Netanyahu's Likud party after the two men announced that they had reached an agreement that would see Jewish Home join a Netanyahu-led coalition, Wednesday, May 6, 2015 (photo credit: new media/Likud)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett shake hands in this image released by Netanyahu's Likud party after the two men announced that they had reached an agreement that would see Jewish Home join a Netanyahu-led coalition, Wednesday, May 6, 2015 (photo credit: new media/Likud)

The Jewish Home party officially inked a deal to join Likud’s government Thursday morning, sealing an agreement hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he had formed a government with the Orthodox-nationalist faction’s 11th-hour support.

The pact includes promises to increase funding for soldiers, schools and settlements, as well as an agreement to push through a controversial bill that would limit foreign funding for nonprofit organizations deemed hostile to Israel.

The deal for Jewish Home to join, announced less than two hours before a midnight deadline Wednesday night, gave Netanyahu the last piece he needed for a razor-thin 61-seat ruling government.

Under the terms of the deal, which was hammered out all night by negotiators from both parties, Jewish Home will receive the education, justice and agriculture portfolios, the right to name a deputy defense minister from its own ranks, the leadership of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee and control over the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division.

The agreement also includes an increase of NIS 630 million ($163.4 million) for the education budget, an allocation of NIS 1 billion ($259 million) to raise soldiers’ pay during their third year of service, a budget increase for Ariel University, which is in the West Bank, and support for the so-called NGO bill.

It also includes protection for transportation over the Green Line, increased accessibility for special-needs pupils in schools, and more funding for community groups who move to disadvantaged areas.

In a meeting with Bennett in the Knesset Wednesday night, Netanyahu thanked the Jewish Home party leader for his “efforts during the negotiations and throughout these last weeks.” He also asserted that Israel would have a “strong, stable government,” which he hoped would exceed 61 seats by Wednesday when it is sworn in.

Netanyahu capitulated to many of the demands of the Jewish Home, and agreed to appoint Bennett as education minister, MK Ayelet Shaked as justice minister, and another Jewish Home member, Uri Ariel, as agriculture minister.

Jewish Home MK Yinon Magal said Thursday the post of deputy defense minister would go to MK Eli Ben Dahan.

Shaked, 39, has only been in politics for two years. Netanyahu and Bennett were still negotiating late Wednesday over the scope of her authority in the job. Shaked will also have a seat in the key decision-making security cabinet by virtue of being justice minister.

Netanyahu is likely to appoint several senior Likud colleagues to the security cabinet too, to offset their unhappiness at missing out on top cabinet posts, and to ensure that the security cabinet supports him on key decisions.

The government will vote Monday on expanding the cabinet from 18 ministers to 22, Israel Radio reported.

Netanyahu has promised to appoint eight ministers from the parties that are partners in the coalition. He may appoint 10 ministers from his own party unless the law limiting the size of the government is changed.

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