Israel’s parliament approved this Sunday (13) a new coalition government and the current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will leave power after 12 years in charge of the country.
The new Prime Minister will be right-wing politician Naftali Bennett, from the Ultranationalist Yamina (or “Right”) party.
Bennett will remain in power until September 2023 as part of a power-sharing agreement with the center party Yesh Atid (“There is a future” in Hebrew).
As part of the deal, the leader of Yesh Atid, former Finance Minister Yair Lapid, will assume power for two years starting in 2023.
Naftali Bennett s new government includes left, center and Arab lawmakers, whom he teamed with opposition leader Yair Lapid.
Bennett, 49, an Orthodox Jew, will be prime minister for two years before Lapid, a former television presenter, takes over.
“Thank you, Benjamin Netanyahu for your long service, full of achievements on behalf of the State of Israel,” Bennett said in a speech.
Lapid’s party was the second most voted party in Israeli elections this March, after the right-wing Likud (“Consolidation”) party, led by Netanyahu.
On April 6, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin gave a 28-day deadline for Netanyahu to build a coalition to form a new government.
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As the current prime minister was unable to attract enough parties to achieve a majority in parliament, Rivlin passed on the mission to second-place Lapid, who has since been dialoguing with different groups in an attempt to achieve a majority, even if heterogeneous.
Negotiations on the formation of a new government came to a halt on May 10, when a new round of hostilities between Israel and Hamas broke out in the Gaza Strip. On the 30th, nine days after the announcement of a ceasefire, right-wing Bennett, former senior adviser, chief of staff, Minister of Education and Defense in recent Netanyahu governments, went on television to announce the final blow in the government of the former ally.
The winning coalition also unites opposites like Avigdor Lieberman, a controversial far-right nationalist who once suggested that “disloyal” members of the country’s Arab minority should be beheaded, and the small Arab party Ra’am, which seeks official protection of customs Muslim conservatives and more funding for Arab-majority cities.
This will be the first Arab-led party to participate in a coalition government in Israel.
The government, which includes for the first time a party representing the Arab minority, which makes up 21% of the Israeli population, plans to avoid drastic changes in controversial international issues, such as policy towards the Palestinians, to focus on domestic reforms.
With little prospect of progress toward resolving the long-running conflict with Israel, many Palestinians are likely to remain unmoved by the change of government, saying Bennett will likely follow the same agenda as Netanyahu.
That seems likely in relation to Israel’s main security concern, Iran. A Bennett spokesman said he promises “vigorous opposition” to any US return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, but that he would seek to cooperate with the government of US President Joe Biden.
“Love you, thank you!” Netanyahu wrote in a message to the Israeli people on Twitter, with a photo with the Israeli flag in the background.
* With information from Reuters