Netanyahu, at Knesset session (file)
Netanyahu, at Knesset session (file)Miriam Alster/Flash90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's proposal to expand the size of the Cabinet from 18 ministers to 20 passed its second and third readings on Wednesday afternoon. 

After first voting on a number of reservations promoted by parties in the opposition, none of which passed, the Knesset sat down to vote on the second and third readings of the bill. 

The proposal passed with a slim margin of 61 to 59 during both the second and third readings. 

Just before the vote, Likud MK Ofir Akunis addressed the Knesset plenum, quoting former prime minister Menachem Begin: "Even a majority of one MK is a majority."

"But Netanyahu will work to broaden the government," Akunis added.

During the 19th Knesset, an amendment was made to a Basic Law regarding ministerial positions which, among other things, limited the number of ministers to 18, abolished the institution of "minister without portfolio," and limited the number of deputy ministers to four.

Netanyahu sought to undo the amendment after coalition partners and his own Likud MKs proved exceedingly pushy in their demands for ministerial positions. 

According to the bill now approved by the Knesset, the minister without portfolio position will be reinstated, and the ban on expanding the Cabinet will be temporarily postponed until the 21st Knesset and onwards.

Much of the Opposition holds strong reservations over the new law, attempting up until the last-minute to have it squashed.