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Netanyahu informs Israeli president he has formed government

JerusalemCNN — 

Benjamin Netanyahu has officially informed Israeli President Isaac Herzog that he has successfully formed a government, his Likud party said Wednesday.

In what was a last minute announcement, Netanyahu tweeted 10 minutes before the deadline expired, “I have managed.”

Netanyahu, who had already served as prime minister for 15 years until being ousted last year, had until midnight local time (5 p.m. ET) Wednesday to form the government following elections on November 1.

The new Israeli government will likely be the most right-wing in Israeli history, including people appointed to ministerial positions who were once considered to be on the extreme nationalist fringes of Israeli politics.

Members of Netanyahu’s Likud party are expected to fill some of the most important cabinet positions of foreign minister, defense minister and justice minister.

Itamar Ben Gvir, leader of the Jewish Power party, will take on the newly expanded public security role, renamed national security minister, overseeing police in Israel plus some police activity in the occupied West Bank.

Bezalel Smotrich, leader of the Religious Zionist party, has been named minister of finance, although he’s also been given power to appoint the head of the Israeli military body, which among its duties handles border crossings and permits for Palestinians.

Aryeh Deri, leader of the ultra-Orthodox party Shas, is expected to serve as both Interior Minister and Minister of Health, while a representative from United Torah Judaism, the other ultra-Orthodox party in the five-party coalition, is expected to be minister of housing.

Not all ministerial positions had been announced as of Wednesday evening.

Special legislation needs to be passed in the coming days before Deri, Ben Gvir and Smotrich can be sworn in. Deri needs a law to be passed so he can serve as a minister despite his criminal conviction for tax offenses.

Ben Gvir needs legislation as his position expands the powers normally given to the public security minister, and Smotrich needs new legislation granting him ministerial power within the defense ministry.

All three pieces of legislation are seen as controversial and have had voices beyond Netanyahu’s political opposition speaking out against them, including security officials.

The new government must be sworn in within a week of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, being notified – likely before January 2.

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