March 18 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu's new government will face the immediate task of
passing an austerity budget and the time-sensitive challenge of
preventing what it believes is Iran's drive to develop nuclear
Following is a list of the coalition's main priorities as
Netanyahu started his third term in office on Monday:
PASSING A BUDGET
After clinching coalition agreements last week, Netanyahu
said his government's first task would be "passage of a
responsible budget" - shorthand for widely expected spending
cuts and tax rises.
The budget deficit rose to 4.2 percent of gross domestic
product in 2012 - double the original target. It was cabinet
infighting over the 2013 budget that led Netanyahu to call an
Pending a parliamentary vote on Tuesday that is expected to
pass comfortably, Netanyahu now has 135 days to pass a budget or
face another general election. In one of its first decisions
after taking office, his new cabinet voted unanimously to
increase the period to pass the budget from 45 days.
Netanyahu has said his government's "paramount task" would
be "to stop Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons".
Last year, Netanyahu announced a "red line" for Iran's
nuclear programme, saying Tehran should not be allowed to obtain
240 kg of 20 percent enriched uranium, a point it could reach,
he said, by spring or summer of 2013.
It was another heavy hint from Netanyahu that Israel could
attack Iran's nuclear sites. But officials and analysts say Iran
has slowed its mid-level uranium enrichment to stay beneath the
U.S. President Barack Obama, in an interview with Israel's
Channel Two television last week, said it would take Iran more
than a year to develop a nuclear weapon. Tehran denies seeking
Israel is closely watching Syria's civil war, with
occasional spillover mortar fire into the Israeli-occupied Golan
Netanyahu has voiced concern that Syria's chemical weapons
and other advanced arms could fall into the hands of the
Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah and al Qaeda.
In January, according to a Western diplomat and a source
among Syrian rebels, Israeli planes bombed a convoy near Syria's
border with Lebanon carrying weapons to Hezbollah.
Netanyahu has said that Obama's visit this
week would put the Israeli-Palestinian peace
issue on his new government's agenda earlier than expected.
Beyond an oft-repeated call to the Palestinians to return to
peace talks they abandoned in 2010 over Israeli
settlement-building in the occupied West Bank, Netanyahu has not
voiced any new ideas on how to restart the negotiations.
Israel's new housing minister, a settler himself, said on
Sunday the cabinet would keep expanding settlements to the same
extent as Netanyahu's previous government.