Israel's swollen cabinet too big for table

JERUSALEM Tue Mar 31, 2009 5:49am EDT

Israel's prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu attends a special session of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, marking the 30th anniversary of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, in Jerusalem March 30, 2009. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israel's prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu attends a special session of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, marking the 30th anniversary of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, in Jerusalem March 30, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's new government was under attack Tuesday even before it was sworn in for being so bloated with ministers at a time of global belt-tightening that it needs an extra cabinet table.

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, now leader of a right-leaning coalition, will preside over a cabinet of 30 ministers and eight deputy ministers after the government is inaugurated later in the day.

The swollen administration, say critics, is the result of too many job promises to sweeten coalition allies. The outgoing center-left coalition of Ehud Olmert had 27 ministers.

An opposition bill submitted to the 120-member Knesset on Monday proposed setting a limit on the size of the government.

The left-leaning daily Haaretz reminded readers that a member of Netanyahu's own right-wing Likud party in the last parliament asserted that anything more than 18 ministers would be a "waste of public money."

(Writing by Douglas Hamilton, Editing by Matthew Jones)

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