Naftali Bennett Sworn In As Israel’s New PM; Ends Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-Year Rule

Naftali Bennett Sworn In As Israel’s New PM; Ends Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-Year RuleNaftali Bennett (Pic via Twitter)

In the latest development, Naftali Bennett, leader of the right-wing Yamina (United Right) party, has been elected as the new Israeli prime minister on Sunday night, sending Benjamin Netanyahu to the opposition after a record 12-year rule.

This came after the new coalition government, headed by Bennett and Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid (Future) party, was approved by the parliament, or Knesset, in a vote of confidence, Xinhua news agency reported.

In the vote of confidence held in the parliament earlier, 60 lawmakers of the 120-member chamber voted in favour of the new government while 59 voted against it.

TV footages of the parliament session showed Bennett and Lapid taking their new seats at the coalition seats in the parliament, while Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving leader, moved to the back seats of the opposition.

At the same time, the 27 new ministers of the new governing coalition were also sworn in. Bennett and Lapid will rotate as the prime minister on a two-year base, with Bennett going first. Lapid will serve as Israel's alternate prime minister and foreign minister.

Israel's parliament on Sunday night also elected Mickey Levy, a lawmaker with Yesh Atid, as its new speaker.

Netanyahu, 71, vowed shortly before his defeat that "if it's our destiny to be in the opposition, we'll do so with our heads high until we take down this bad government and return to lead the country our way".

The new coalition includes eight parties, including the Islamist Ra'am party, the first Arab faction to be included in a governing coalition in Israel.

The forming of the new coalition government has ended a political crisis in Israeli, that has seen four elections in two years.

US President Joe Biden has offered congratulations to Naftali Bennett after his win in the Parliament. In a phone call with Bennett on Sunday, Biden highlighted his decades of support for the bilateral relations and his unwavering commitment to Israel's security, according to a White House statement, Xinhua news agency reported.

The two leaders agreed to consult closely on regional security issues, including Iran, said the statement. "The President also conveyed that his administration intends to work closely with the Israeli government on efforts to advance peace, security, and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians," it added.

With IANS Inputs