Israeli coalition ousts Netanyahu as prime minister after 12 years

The Guardian – By Oliver Holmes in Jerusalem – Sun 13 Jun 2021

Far-right former settler leader Naftali Bennett to be installed as prime minister.

Israel’s longest-serving leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been ousted from office by a loose coalition of rivals from across the political spectrum, united by their wish to end his 12-year run in power.

The opposition leader, Yair Lapid, a centrist former TV news anchor, won a confidence vote in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, by a razor-thin advantage of 60-59 seats on Sunday evening.

Lapid will not initially become prime minister. Instead, under a power-sharing agreement, his former foe and far-right advocate for the settler movement in the Palestinian territories, Naftali Bennett, was sworn in as the country’s leader.

Bennett, who has ruled out a Palestinian state and wants Israel to maintain ultimate control over all the lands it occupies, will be prime minister for the first two years of a four-year term before handing over to Lapid.

The self-described “government of change” is a mix of ideologically opposed politicians from hardline Jewish religious nationalists to a small Arab Islamist party.

Ahead of the Knesset vote, Bennett attempted to give a conciliatory speech, even as Netanyahu’s allies heckled him from their seats. The 49-year-old prime minister-designate thanked the outgoing leader for his “lengthy and achievement filled service”.

Speaking after Bennett, Netanyahu struck a different tone, first boasting that he had transformed Israel “from a marginal country to a rising force” and then slamming Bennett as weak in comparison.

Netanyahu said he would work in the opposition to “topple this dangerous government” and return to power.

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Posted by Teri Perticone


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