Israelis pose in front of a poster showing outgoing Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Israel.(AP)
Israelis pose in front of a poster showing outgoing Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Israel.(AP)

Netanyahu’s tenure ends; Bennett is Israel’s new PM

  • Sixty members of the Knesset voted in favour of the ideologically divided alliance and 59 against, with one abstention.
Agencies |
PUBLISHED ON JUN 14, 2021 02:37 AM IST

After a record 12 years under Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel entered a new era on Sunday, voting in a motley coalition united by animosity towards “Bibi” and installing his one-time protege Naftali Bennett as the prime minister.

Sixty members of the Knesset voted in favour of the ideologically divided alliance and 59 against, with one abstention.

Bennett will serve as prime minister for two years, after which coalition architect, centrist Yair Lapid, will take over.

Earlier in the day, Bennett said that renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran would be a major mistake. In a speech to parliament prior to the vote, Bennett said that Israel remains ready to act against Iran.

“Israel will not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons,” Bennett said. “Israel will not be a party to the agreement and will continue to preserve full freedom of action.” The strong comments maintain the confrontational policy by Netanyahu.

Nonetheless, Bennett thanked President Joe Biden and the US administration for supporting Israel over the decades. Bennett’s new government was sworn into office late on Sunday.

The Knesset voted in favour of the coalition put together by Lapid with the aim of terminating Netanyahu’s 12 years at the helm.

Bennett, a former tech entrepreneur and a former defence minister, leads the right-wing Yamina Party, which has called for Israel to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. Bennett becomes Israel’s first premier to lead an openly religious lifestyle, with his small skullcap known as a kippa fastened to his head.

He shares this ideology with Netanyahu, having served in several of the Likud leader’s governments. But in recent years tensions between the two arose and intensified, with Netanyahu making little effort to hide his disdain for Bennett.

In late May, two months after Israel’s fourth inconclusive election in two years, Bennett allied himself with Lapid, paving the way for the improbable eight-party coalition.

Bennett entered politics in 2005, and the next year became chief of staff to Netanyahu, who was then in the opposition. After leaving Netanyahu’s office, Bennett in 2010 became head of the Yesha Council.

He took politics by storm in 2012, taking charge of the hard-right Jewish Home party, which was facing annihilation. He rebranded Jewish Home as the “New Right” Party, before forging the Yamina bloc in 2018.

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