Benjamin Netanyahu will be leaving the Israeli prime minister’s post after 12 years in power as the country’s legislature voted to swear in a new ‘change’ government on Sunday. </p><div><p>The new government was supported by 60 out of 120 MPs in the Knesset, while 59 voted against it. The only lawmaker to abstain was Said al-Harumi, of the pro-Palestinian United Arab List party.
Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Yamina alliance and one of the key figures in the ‘change’ coalition, has been sworn in as the new Israeli prime minister, replacing Netanyahu.
The landmark vote took place after a tense session in the Knesset, which saw Bennett constantly heckled by Netanyahu’s supporters during his speech. Bennett’s key ally, Yair Lapid, decided to forgo his speech completely, due to the behavior of his opponents, some of whom had to be removed from the chamber by security.
When Netanyahu spoke, he claimed that Israel will be getting a “weak government” with the ‘change’ coalition. He insisted that Bennett, who is going to become the next PM, “doesn’t have the global standing” and “credibility” to counter the Jewish state’s archrival, Iran, adding that Tehran would be celebrating after the vote.
The country’s longest-serving prime minister also accused Bennett of perpetrating the “greatest fraud in Israel’s history,” recalling that the Yamina alliance leader had categorically ruled out a partnership with Lapid ahead of the election. But now, in accordance with the agreement involving eight anti-Netanyahu parties, Lapid will choose a successor to Bennett as PM in 2023.
The appointment of the ‘change’ government is expected to end a long-running political stalemate in Israel. The country has seen four elections since 2009 as ruling coalitions involving Netanyahu’s Likud party kept falling apart. This deadlock also saw Israel left without a state budget for more than a year.
Netanyahu has led Israel since 2009, steering the country to the right, peddling the Iranian threat and withering the peace process with the Palestinians. His final years in office were marred by a corruption scandal as the PM was indicted on charges of fraud, bribery and breach of public trust over accusations that he accepted expensive gifts from businessmen and made deals with media bosses for favorable coverage.
The 71-year-old’s response to the coronavirus pandemic was also harshly criticized for draconian restrictions and his reluctance to fulfill a promise to assist those most affected by the curbs.
Protests demanding Netanyahu’s resignation have recently been attracting thousands of people. The latest such rally took place in Jerusalem on Saturday, when numerous opponents of the prime minister celebrated their victory in anticipation of the Knesset vote.
Netanyahu is leaving office shortly after one of the most serious Israeli-Palestinian flare-ups in years. In May, the IDF and Gaza-based armed group Hamas exchanged fire for 11 days in a row, resulting in the deaths of 248 Palestinians, including 66 children, in Gaza, and 12 fatalities in Israel, two of whom were children.
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