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Israel's Labor Party to Join Netanyahu Government

Israel's moderate Labor party has voted to join the coalition government of Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu.

A Labor party official, Etan Cabel, says 57 percent of nearly 1,200 delegates voted to endorse Labor leader Ehud Barak's plan to join a government led by Mr. Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party.

The official says the vote was held after an intense debate at a party convention Tuesday in Jerusalem.

Labor's vote was a key development because it will give Mr. Netanyahu a ruling majority of 66 seats in the 120-member parliament. Analysts in Israel say the coalition government will appear more broad and moderate with Labor on board.

Before the vote, many Labor lawmakers said they opposed joining Mr. Netanyahu's coalition, which will be dominated by right-wing parties that oppose giving many concessions to the Palestinians.

In addition to Mr. Netanyahu's Likud party, the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party and the Orthodox Jewish Shas party would be part of the coalition.

Under the pact reached Tuesday by Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Barak, Mr. Barak will retain his post as defense minister.

Mr. Netanyahu was tasked with forming a new government following elections last month.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.