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Saturday, April 4, 2009
Netanyahu sworn in as Israeli PM
Israel's Parliament has sworn in Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister and approved the new right-leaning coalition Cabinet by 69 votes to 45.
Netanyahu had earlier asked the country's Parliament to trust in him to lead Israel through the economic and security challenges it faces.
He said he would negotiate with the Palestinians but made no reference to a two-state solution to the conflict.
It combines the center-right, center-left and far-right parties, with hard-liner Avigdor Lieberman confirmed as foreign minister and Labor veteran Ehud Barak as minister of defense.
The cabinet is so big, the government's meeting table has had to be extended to accommodate all the members.
“I say to the Palestinian leadership, if you truly want peace, peace can be obtained “
The BBC's Paul Wood in Beit-ul-Moqaddas says one of the first things the new government must do is reassure the international community that peace talks with the Palestinians will continue.
Speaking before the swearing-in, Netanyahu said his government would strive to reach an agreement with the Palestinians and would work towards peace on economic, security and political tracks.
“I am telling the leaders of the Palestinian Authority (PA), if you really want peace, it is possible to reach peace,” he said.
“We do not want to govern another people. We do not want to exercise our power over the Palestinians.”
But the Palestinian Authority said the statement was “not encouraging”, as it made no reference to the possibility of a future Palestinian state.
Speaking to BBC Arabic, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said the authority would deal with “any government chosen by the Israeli people”.
But he said if that government did not accept the two-state solution, existing agreements and stop settlement activity, it would be “difficult” to deal with it politically.