Israel poised for new era as parliament votes on new government

Israel poised for new era as parliament votes on new government

Israel poised for new era as parliament votes on new government

Benjamin Netanyahu has been ousted as Israel's prime minister and Naftali Bennett is now the country's new leader following Knesset's vote Sunday.

Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, said ahead of Sunday's session that the political developments wouldn't change its relationship with Israel.

They finally succeeded after the fourth election, in March 2021, when party leaders from across the political spectrum put aside their differences and agreed to form a unity government. It will likely be fragile, with a razor-thin majority. In his speech before the Knesset confidence vote, Bennett celebrated the diversity and warned of polarization within the country.

The new government is expected to win a narrow majority in the 120-member assembly, after which it will be sworn in. A 49-year-old former defence minister and one-time special forces commando, Bennett leads the right-wing Yamina party, which has called for Israel to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

"This is a sad morning, because of the theft of votes and the fact Israel is getting a government based on one thing - a lie", Ofir Akunis, an outgoing minister from Netanyahu's Likud party, told Army Radio.

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. "We'll be back - and faster than you think". While he was in office, the US moved their embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing the city as Israel's capital. Biden predecessor Donald Trump left the deal, but Biden wants to return to it. "Israel will not allow Iran to equip itself with nuclear weapons". Relations with Israel's closest ally grew even rockier when Netanyahu vigorously campaigned against President Barack Obama's emerging nuclear deal with Iran, even denouncing it in an address to the U.S. Congress.

At the same time, Bennett echoed the outgoing prime minister's opposition to restoring the global nuclear deal with Iran.

On the global stage, with his polished English and booming baritone voice, the telegenic Netanyahu has become the face of Israel.

Israel poised for new era as parliament votes on new government
Israel poised for new era as parliament votes on new government

For the first time in more than a decade, Israel has welcomed a new prime minister.

Often referred to by his nickname Bibi, Netanyahu is loved by his supporters and loathed by critics.

Though he remains by far the most influential and popular figure in Likud, he is also standing trial on corruption and fraud charges which have severely damaged his public image.

His opponents have long reviled what they see as Netanyahu's divisive rhetoric, underhanded political tactics and subjection of state interests to his own political survival. Some have dubbed him "Crime Minister" and have accused him of mishandling the coronavirus crisis and its economic fallout.

Between the lines: Despite Bennett's right-wing politics and hardline positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, many senior officials in the Biden administration will be be happy to see the end of Netanyahu's tenure. Bennett has said another election - a likely outcome if no government were formed - would have been a disaster for Israel.

Both Bennett and Lapid have said they want to bridge political divides and unite Israelis under a government that will work hard for all its citizens.

They drew some cheers and applause during the session amid non-stop heckling from their opponents.

Bennett listed as priorities reforms in education, health, cutting red tape to grow businesses and lower housing costs. Two hardliners from the Religious Zionist party were escorted out of the hall.

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