Smaller cabinet for Israel in 'major coup' for centrists
JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israel's incoming cabinet, which is in the final stages of being formed, will count just 20 ministers down from 28 in what the press on Tuesday hailed as a major coup for the centrist Yesh Atid.
The more streamlined cabinet had been a central plank of the campaign of Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, whose newly-formed party won a shock victory in the January election, becoming overnight Israel's second political faction.
The news emerged late on Monday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to iron out the final details of a long-awaited coalition agreement which will set in place a new government just days before a top-level visit on March 20 by US President Barack Obama.
Still to be resolved is the key issue of who will receive the education portfolio, which has until now been held by Netanyahu's rightwing Likud and which he wants to keep, but Lapid is also pushing for the post to be given to his deputy, Rabbi Shai Piron.