Netanyahu Loses Office, Making Way for Naftali Bennett

Katie Ramirez
June 14, 2021

"I look forward to working with Prime Minister Bennett to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations".

However, Israeli citizens have offered up mixed reactions ahead of the vote.

Netanyahu's bombastic remarks as he saw his grip on power slip drew parallels at home and overseas to former United States president Donald Trump, who described his election loss previous year as the result of a rigged vote.

The diverse anti-Netanyahu bloc was cobbled together by the secular centrist Yair Lapid, a former TV presenter, and includes right-wing and left-wing groups as well as Arab-Israeli lawmakers.

Israel's Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett has announced during an address to Israel's Knesset that his yet-to-be-approved government will be looking into expanding the peace deals with Arab countries.

Mr Netanyahu, speaking after him, vowed to return to power.

Parliament convened at 4 p.m. (1300 GMT) to approve the government in a confidence vote that will follow speeches and a debate that could take about four hours.

A former defence minister and a high-tech millionaire, Bennett, 49, was due to be sworn in shortly after the vote.

The new government, formed in March and confirmed Sunday, spans the political spectrum in Israel, including representation of its large Arab minority, and is united mainly around a single issue: no more Netanyahu.

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Bennett said his government would promote economic steps toward the Palestinians but any violence by Palestinians would be met by a strong response.

Gaza's rulers Hamas said political developments in Jerusalem wouldn't change their position on Israel.

He also added that Israel will not allow Iran to be equipped with nuclear weapons: "Israel is not party to the agreement, and will maintain full freedom to act".

This does seem likely regarding Israel's top security concern, Iran - and possible friction with U.S. President Joe Biden's administration over the 2015 nuclear pact between Tehran and world powers.

"We stopped the train before the abyss", Mr. Bennett said. Serving in his first term as prime minister in the 1990s and winning four more terms in succession since 2009, he has been a polarising figure, both overseas and at home. His ongoing corruption trial - on charges he denies - has only deepened the chasm.

"If we're destined to be in the opposition, we will do it with our heads held high until we topple this risky government and return to lead the country in our way", he said in a speech to parliament. He has lashed out at the new government in apocalyptic terms and accused Bennett of defrauding voters by running as a right-wing stalwart and then partnering with the left.

The ex-defense minister wavered over his decision during the fighting with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip last month, but eventually decided Netanyahu didn't have enough seats to form a right-wing government and avoid yet another round of balloting, ultimately birthing the most unlikely government in Israel's history.

Yemina party leader Naftali Bennett speaks to the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem, Sunday, May 30, 2021.

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