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Israel's Kadima Party Announces Coalition


Israel's centrist Kadima Party has signed a coalition deal with the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, clearing the way for a parliamentary majority. Authorities say the new government will be sworn in on Thursday.

The agreement with Shas, reached late Sunday, gives the coalition of incoming Prime Minister Ehud Olmert control of 67 seats in the 120-member parliament.

A stable majority is crucial to pushing through Mr. Olmert's plan to withdraw from parts of the West Bank and draw Israel's final borders.

Mr. Olmert announced his Cabinet appointments Monday. The key position of foreign minister was given to Tzipi Livni. She has been serving as acting foreign minister in recent months. Elder statesman Shimon Peres was named a deputy prime minister. Both are members of the Kadima Party.

Peres was also placed in charge of developing the Negev and Galilee regions.

The defense portfolio went to Amir Peretz, head of the center-left Labor party. Outgoing Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz was re-assigned as transportation minister.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.