Israeli Official Says Deal Reached to Expand Government

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman shake hands after signing a coalition agreement in the Knesset on Wednesday

If chances for an implementation of Blair and Sissi's initiative were slim to begin with, the failed coalition talks between Herzog and Netanyahu and the subsequent entry of Yisrael Beiteinu into the coalition and the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as defense minister made it close to impossible.

Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu colleague Sofa Landver will also join him in the cabinet as the Minister for Immigrant Absorption.

Lieberman has a reputation for inflammatory comments.

Lieberman has antagonized Washington at times by throwing cold water on American peace initiatives. The Palestinians, along with much of the worldwide community, have accused Netanyahu of undermining peace talks by continued settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem - captured territories where they hope to establish an independent state.

The deal brings to a stunning conclusion weeks of speculation over Netanyahu's efforts to expand his government, which has held only 61 of the 120 seats in parliament since elections in March 2015.

Israel's former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon stepped down earlier this week after he was pushed out of his job to make room for Lieberman.

He split with Netanyahu a year later, starting the Yisrael Beiteinu party in 1999.

The talks, which lasted for over a week, have stalled due to disagreements over the pension reform lobbied by Lieberman in favor of his traditional electors - elderly immigrants from former Soviet Union republics.

Netanyahu's attorneys said the travel involved appearances at fundraising events for Israel in which - as the comptroller's report noted - host organisations overseas would pay for their guests' expenses.

The Defence Ministry runs civil affairs in the occupied West Bank, where Palestinians live in friction with Jewish settlers.

The appointment of a hardline right-winger as Israel's defence minister represents a "real threat" to regional stability, a senior Palestinian official said on Wednesday.

As Secretary of State, she devised and fought to maintain sanctions that crippled Iran's economy, and she negotiated a ceasefire between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian leaders at a critical moment in Gaza after increasing violence and rocket attacks on Israeli homes.

He is also seen as one of Israel's most divisive politicians.

"Without a doubt, the question of the "command spirit" will arise, with some in the ranks wondering whether this defence minister has, effectively, revised military ethics, especially regarding open-fire regulations", Peretz told Reuters.

In 2001, he advocated bombing the Aswan Dam in Egypt, accusing Israel's Arab neighbour of supporting a Palestinian uprising.

It's a risky inversion: In Israel, according to Ronen Bergman in his analysis for The New York Times, the relationship that Benjamin Netanyahu and other politicians are cultivating with their country's military and intelligence leaders is one in which the wrong side is making the case for caution.

"When Netanyahu is talking about direct talks, negotiations, and meeting the (Palestinian Authority) president, he wants to buy more time", Hamdallah said in Ramallah on Tuesday at a meeting with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

Related News: