Netanyahu reaches deal to form coalition government

After five weeks of talks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party have reached a deal to form a coalition government.

After the January election, Netanyahu was forced to give up his alliance with Shas and United Torah Judaism, two ultra-Orthodox parties, and instead form a coalition with centrist Yesh Atid and Hatnua, and the far-right Jewish Home.

This is the smallest government in decades, with 21 ministers, not including the prime minister.

The deal still has to be approved by the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.

In the midst of this new change, United States President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit on Mar. 20 for what is to be his first trip to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan since his first election in 2008.

His visit will focus on restoring peace talks with the Palestinians, Iran’s nuclear weapons program and the war in Syria.

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