Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally presented his new cabinet at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on Tuesday, and vowed to put the fight against Islamist extremists at the top of his agenda.
“This government has been established at a time of great challenges and opportunities,” Netanyahu said. “Our first challenge is to ensure the security of Israel in the face of accumulating threats around us. Radical Islam is lapping at all our borders, nearly all in the form of factions and forces led by Iran and other radical elements.”
He said, however, that the country would seek to forge new alliances given the regional turmoil, hinting at Israel’s shared interests with Sunni states against Iran’s nuclear program.
“Many states in the area have joint interests with us and see eye to with us on the dangers. We will make every effort to translate that partnership into peace.”
Netanyahu added that Israel would seek “a responsible political settlement with the Palestinians.”
President Reuven Rivlin welcomed the incoming cabinet, which was sworn in last week.
Rivlin gave a vote of support to the slim 61-seat coalition, saying it was just “as democratic and legitimate as a government of 90 MKs.”
“A narrow government must be, and is able to be, a good government as long as it is faithful to its internal cohesion, and to the public interests of all the citizens of Israel,” he said.
Earlier in the day the cabinet approved the appointment of seven deputy ministers: MK Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) as deputy health minister, MK Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) as deputy education minister, MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) as deputy foreign minister, MK Yitzhak Cohen (Shas) as deputy finance minister, MK Meshulam Nahari (Shas) as deputy minister of welfare and social services, MK Ayoub Kara (Likud) as deputy minister for regional cooperation, and MK Eli Ben Dahan (Jewish Home) as deputy defense minister.