Atilla Somfalvi
March 16, 2009 - 12:00am,7340,L-3686955,00.html

The Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu parties signed a coalition deal late Sunday night stipulating that Avigdor Lieberman will be appointed Israel's next foreign minister.

According to the agreement, Stas Misezhnikov will receive the Tourism portfolio, Uzi Landau will be given the National Infrastructure portfolio, Sofa Landver will become immigration absorption minister and Yitzhak Aharonovitch will be appointed national security minister.

Yisrael Beiteinu was also promised a deputy minister post at the Foreign Ministry and the chairmanship of the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.

However, the two parties included a clause in the agreement stressing their support of a unity government, which – should it be formed - could bring about a change in the portfolio distribution.

Lieberman's party has also been granted several of its demands on the issue of civil marriage. The deal guarantees that legislation regulating marriage between Jews and non-Jews will be passed within two months, and that a legal solution for other individuals prevented from marrying according to Jewish law will be found within 15 months.

On the matter of conversions the agreement states that local and municipal rabbis will be able to perform conversions with the Chief Rabbinate's approval, and also wed people who converted and set criteria for annulling conversions.

MK Gideon Sa'ar, head of the Likud team for coalition talks said at the end of the nightly meeting with Yisrael Beiteinu: "The negotiations were firm but conducted in good spirits, and this has set the foundation for good partnership.

"The agreement will note that we are interested in a unity government – and should this transpire there will be changes. We are not shutting the door on unity."

MK Misezhnikov, who represented Yisrael Beiteinu in the talks, said that he was pleased with the outcome and that "the coalition deal represents the voter's wish and ensures a strong coalition."


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