Bye bye, Bibi: Netanyahu’s 12-year reign in Israel is over
Israel's new prime minister Naftali Bennett and his coalition partner Ayeet Shaked whisper behind the back of outgoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a Knesset session in Jerusalem, Sunday, June 13, 2021. | Ariel Schalit / AP

Israel swore in a new government over the weekend, ending Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year stint as the country’s prime minister. Naftali Bennett, the head of a small ultra-nationalist party, has taken over as PM, but if he wants to keep the job, he will have to maintain an unwieldy coalition of parties from the political right, left, and center.

The eight parties, including a small Arab faction that is making history by sitting in the ruling coalition, are united in their opposition to Netanyahu and new elections—but agree on little else.

Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, remains the head of the largest party in parliament and is expected to vigorously oppose the new government.

If one faction bolts, the coalition could lose its majority and would be at risk of collapse, giving him an opening to return to power.

The country’s deep divisions were on vivid display as Bennett addressed the Knesset ahead of the vote that installed him. He was repeatedly interrupted and loudly heckled by supporters of Netanyahu, several of whom were escorted out of the chamber.

Bennett’s speech mostly dwelled on domestic issues, but he expressed opposition to U.S. efforts to revive Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

“Israel will not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons,” Bennett said, vowing to maintain his predecessor’s confrontational policy. “Israel will not be a party to the agreement and will continue to preserve full freedom of action.”

Netanyahu said: “If it is destined for us to be in the opposition, we will do it with our backs straight until we topple this dangerous government and return to lead the country in our way.”

The new government is promising a return to “normalcy” after a tumultuous two years that saw four elections, the continued oppression of the Palestinians—including an 11-day barrage of Gaza last month that killed over 250 people, mostly civilians—and a coronavirus outbreak that has devastated the economy.

Following the vote ousting his government, Netanyahu instinctively returned to the seat in the chamber usually occupied by the prime minister. He had to be reminded he had to vacate the chair as well as the office and move to the opposition benches.

Morning Star


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Morning Star

Morning Star is the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain. Morning Star es el diario socialista publicado en Gran Bretaña.