Obama congratulates Netanyahu on new government

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Following weeks of tough negotiations, Israel will forge ahead with a new governmental structure that would be the first “in years” to not have extremely Orthodox Jewish parties, the Associated Press reported on Thursday.

The new leaders are expected to be officially sworn-in on Monday, two days before Obama is scheduled to visit the country.

The White House said that Obama “looks forward to working closely with the prime minister and the new government to address the many challenges we face and advance our shared interest in peace and security.”

Some reports are critical that the new government does not make enough strides to spur the peace process with Palestinian people and that the shift will only create a larger gap between secular Israelis and the strict Orthodox communities.

The new government has a 68-seat majority in the 120-member Parliament and a 22-minister cabinet, according to a New York Times report. The government, which the ultra-Orthodox parties have promised to oppose, is also made up of five factions “with somewhat contradictory positions on critical questions, including the Palestinian conflict,” the Times continues.

“The United States places a high value on its deep and enduring bonds with Israel and the Israeli people,” the White House said in Saturday’s release. “The president looks forward to further strengthening those bonds when he travels to Israel next week to meet with Israeli officials and to speak directly with the Israeli people.”

Obama will travel to Israel on Wednesday and, in addition to touring the traditional cultural stops, has plans to visit the Palestinian-dominated West Bank and the country of Jordan, which has become a hub for Syrian refugees fleeing the violence in their country.