Netanyahu’s Party Signs Deals for New Israeli Government

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed President Shimon Peres he signed coalition deals that give him the majority to form a new government, the president’s office said today in an e-mailed statement.

“We face a decisive year in everything that has to do with security, the economy and in advancing the peace process,” Netanyahu told Peres, according to the statement. “This government will work together to deliver in all of these areas.”

The new government probably will be officially sworn in by Peres on March 18, Likud party spokeswoman Noga Rappaport said. Obama is scheduled to begin a three-day visit, his first trip to Israel as president, on March 20.

The new government, comprised of Likud, Yisrael Beitenu, Yesh Atid and Hatenuah, will hold 68 seats in Israel’s 120-member parliament, the Knesset. The coalition’s makeup would enable the incoming government to make the budget cuts necessary to keep spending in check, after last year’s deficit came in above target.

Netanyahu called for early elections last year after his coalition partners refused to approve 14 billion shekels ($3.8 billion) in budget cuts to meet a deficit target of 3 percent of economic output. The premier’s coalition partners would also support his previously failed efforts to limit the number of military draft exemptions given to ultra-Orthodox men so they can pursue religious study.