The 36th government of the State of Israel was sworn in yesterday. It consists of a coalition of 8 parties and will have 27 ministers. In the role of prime minister is, for the first time, a man who wears a kippah, Naftali Bennett. For the first time in the history of the State of Israel, nine women will serve, making up a third of the government
Bennett's appointment as prime minister is also a precedent because he heads a relatively small party with only 6 MKs. According to Israel's parliamentary system, the person that holds together a functioning coalition is also typically the one who heads the largest party and is supported by many MKs so that he can lead legislative proceedings in the Knesset.
This is not Israel’s largest government, with 34 ministers serving in the previous government, but it is certainly relatively large. This is the situation despite the commitment of the coalition’s architect, Yair Lapid (whose party has 17 MKs, and who came in second only to Likud in the last elections), to maintain a lean government of 18 ministers to prevent waste of public money.
According to the coalition rotation agreements, Lapid, chairman of Yesh Atid, will be appointed prime minister in two years, replacing Bennett. Lapid currently serves as foreign minister and when he moves to the post of prime minister, a number of other senior officials will change positions.
There are many important precedents within the new government. Issawi Frej from Meretz, who has been appointed Minister of Regional Cooperation, is a Muslim Arab. He is the second Muslim minister in the history of the State of Israel. The chairman of Frej's party, Nitzan Horowitz, is openly gay. The previous government also had an openly gay minister, Amir Ohana, who served as minister of internal security. The government will also have six religious ministers.
The coalition is made up of extremely unlikely partnerships. The eight parties that make up the coalition are: the centrist Yesh Atid with 17 MKs; Blue and White led by Benny Gantz with 8 MKs; Yisrael Beiteinu, right-wing and secular, led by Avigdor Lieberman with 7 MKs; the left-wing Labor Party, led by Meirav Michaeli, the only woman to head a party in the current coalition; New Hope, secular, liberal and right-wing, led by Gideon Saar with 6 MKs; leftist Meretz, led by Nitzan Horowitz with 6 MKs; and Ra'am, an Islamist religious party with 4 MKs.
The defense minister will be Benny Gantz, continuing in the same position from the previous government. The Minister of Finance will be Avigdor Lieberman. The Minister of Justice, in a position that will allow him to influence the legal proceedings of the outgoing Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, will be Gideon Saar (who defected from Netanyahu’s Likud party). The Minister of Health will be Nitzan Horowitz and the Minister of Transportation will be Meirav Michaeli. Ra’am did not seek ministerial positions.