Netanyahu tells Knesset: “We’ll be back soon.”
With the swearing in of the new coalition government on Sunday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year term at the helm of Israel has come to an end. A broad coalition of eight parties managed to secure the required simple majority of 60 votes in a 120-member parliament, the Knesset, thereby ending a political deadlock which took the country through four elections in two years.
Knesset confirmed Naftali Bennett, the leader of the rightwing Yamina party, as the country’s 13th prime minister. Under a “rotation” agreement with Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party, he will serve as the prime minister for two years before handing over the reins to Lapid for the latter half of the term.
The Jerusalem Post reported the formation of the new government:
Benjamin Netanyahu’s record-breaking term as prime minister ended on Sunday night, when the Knesset voted to approve the new government formed by Yamina leader Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid.
The new government passed with the support of 60 MKs, while 59 opposed it. Ra’am (United Arab List) MK Sa’eed Alharomi and five Joint List MKs absented themselves from the vote.
The Israeli TV channel i24News noted the “razor-thin” majority of the new government which comprises of conflicting political groupings, including the Arab-Islamist Ra’am party. “Israel Parliament votes in Naftali Bennett as prime minister, with 60 lawmakers voting in favor of the ideologically divided alliance and 59 against, with one abstention,” the broadcaster reported.
Netanyahu’s Likud is the single largest party with 30 seats in the current parliament.
President Joe Biden was among the first to congratulate the newly sworn in Israeli government. “On behalf of the American people, I congratulate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and all the members of the new Israeli cabinet,” he said.
Netanyahu offered a handshake to his successor, Bennett, but remained defiant in his final speech in the Knesset, promising to be “back soon.” He also asserted the need to stand up to President Joe Biden’s administration as it moves closer to a nuclear deal with Iran.
The Times of Israel reported the outgoing prime minister’s fiery remarks:
“I will fight daily against this terrible, dangerous left-wing government in order to topple it,” Netanyahu said at the conclusion of his lengthy speech in the Knesset plenum. “With God’s help, it will happen a lot earlier than you think it will.”
In comments warning Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah that he is not going anywhere, he declared in English: “We’ll be back soon!” (…)
“The prime minister of Israel needs to be able to say no to the president of the United States on issues that threaten our existence,” Netanyahu went on, noting his own controversial 2015 speech to a joint session of Congress in opposition to the Iran deal — which was arranged without the support of then-president Barack Obama and boycotted by many Democratic members of Congress. “Who will do that now? Prime Minister Yair Lapid?… This government does not want and is not capable of opposing the United States.”
He also reflected on his long public career and recounted some of his political achievements:
I have been under fire as a commander in a special army unit, I nearly lost my life in the Suez Canal. I have worked night and day for our beloved country. Together with my friends in the Likud and partners in the right, we have turned Israel into a local power, not out of weakness, surrendering to outside pressure. We have nurtured our technological and diplomatic and security power – it has brought tremendous achievements for Israel, including the vaccination campaign.
We were the first to get out of the coronavirus. We turned Israel into a free economy – one of the twenty wealthiest in the world. We have narrowed inequality.
We fought with determination to thwart Iran’s attempts to achieve a nuclear weapon.
The outgoing Israeli prime minister leaves behind an impressive diplomatic and political legacy. Under his leadership, Israeli strengthened diplomatic ties with formerly hostile countries across the world, including India.
During U.S. President Donald Trump’s tenure, Israel normalized relations the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain under the Abraham Accords framework. The Trump-brokered accords ushered in a new era of cooperation between Israel and Arab gulf nations. The period also saw the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and the moving of the American embassy to Jerusalem.DONATE
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