Israel’s new prime minister takes oath, ending Netanyahu’s 12-year hold on power


After four elections in two years, Bennett’s incoming government breaks a long political deadlock and enters the most diverse coalition Israel has ever seen, including the first Arab party to serve in government. In his speech before the Knesset trust vote, Bennett celebrated diversity and warned of polarization within the country.

“Twice in history, we have lost our national home precisely because the leaders of the generation were not able to sit down with each other and come to a compromise. Each was right, yet with all his rightness, he placed our house on top of us. burned down,” Bennett said. “I take pride in the ability to sit with people with very different views than myself.”

Bennett became prominent as leader of Yamina, a right-wing party that only had seven seats in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, making him the only prime minister in the country’s history with such a small faction. In contrast, Netanyahu’s Likud party won 30 seats in the election held in March. Once again, however, Netanyahu could not form a governing coalition with a majority of 120 members of the Knesset.

US President Joe Biden on Sunday congratulated Bennett in his first statement about the political situation in Israel, saying he looks forward to working with the new prime minister.

According to a readout of the call from the White House, Biden also spoke with Bennett on the phone. “The leaders agreed that they and their teams will discuss closely all matters relating to regional security, including those of Iran,” the White House said.

“The president also conveyed that his administration intends to work closely with the Israeli government on efforts to advance peace, security and prosperity for Israel and the Palestinians.”

A statement from Bennett’s office said that the two leaders “emphasized the importance of an alliance between Israel and the United States, as well as their desire to strengthen ties between the two countries and to maintain the security of the State of Israel.” Emphasis on commitment.

During the call, Bennett also expressed appreciation for Biden’s “support for Israel during the recent operation in Gaza,” according to the readout.

‘we’ll be back soon’

During the debate before the swearing-in, Netanyahu described the coalition that ousted him from prime minister’s office after a record 12 consecutive years as a “weak” and “dangerous” government.

Long considered the “magician” of Israeli politics, Netanyahu has survived challenges to his power for many years, outwitting his opponents. But on this night he had many opponents who wanted to see him go.

After touting his achievements throughout his years in office, Netanyahu attacked his rivals.

He said, “You call yourself the custodian of democracy, but you are so afraid of democracy that you are ready to pass a fascist law against my candidacy – the language of North Korea and Iran – so that you can maintain your rule. ” To speculate that the new government would impose a term limit or make it illegal for someone who has been accused of being prime minister.

Warned that the new government would not stand before Iran, Netanyahu warned his internal rivals and external enemies, “We will be back soon.”

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a special session in the Knesset on June 13.

common ground

Bennett’s The road to victory was completely lost during an 11-day battle between Israel and Palestinian militants last month, when Netanyahu appeared to be downplaying any chances of opposition parties forming a government to replace him. But Yair Lapid, the head of the centrist Yash Atid party, which has 17 seats, forged agreements between the various parties, ending Netanyahu’s grip on power. The arrangement places Bennett at the head of a coalition that includes right-wing, left-wing and Arab parties largely united by his desire to remove Netanyahu.

These disparate interests will challenge the coalition to find common ground on key issues, such as what policy to pursue with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank or how to manage relations with Gaza. The international community, including the United States, is pushing for the renewal of a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, but this government is unwilling to handle such talks, as the two sides are vocally opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian . State

Instead, Bennett will focus on domestic issues during his two years as prime minister, before handing over the reins to Lapid as per their coalition agreement. These would include the relationship between religion and the state, issues of cost of living and quality of life. Israel has also not passed a budget since March 2018; The newly anointed government has three months to implement one or the Knesset will dissolve and the country will once again move towards elections by law.

Yet the neonatal administration will have no choice but to deal with some complex issues. In East Jerusalem, the eviction of several Palestinian families in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah is still awaiting the High Court’s decision. Last month the final decision was delayed in an effort to quell tensions and violence in Jerusalem, but it nonetheless triggered a series of escalation that led to more than a week-long conflict between Israel and Gaza, killing hundreds , most of whom were Palestinian.

Throughout his political career, Israel’s new prime minister has served as Minister of Defence, Minister of Economy, Minister of Education, and others. But it was always under Netanyahu, and Bennett began his political career as Netanyahu’s chief of staff. Replacing his former boss, Bennett has already made a mark in the country’s political history, especially after years of unprecedented political stalemate.

Bennett’s success and political survival ultimately depend on his ability to strike a compromise between the various parties in the coalition, even if on a narrow domestic agenda. If not, he risks ending his time as prime minister soon after he begins.

CNN’s Amir Tal and Hadas Gold contributed to this report.

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