Israel’s new prime minister is sworn in, ending Netanyahu’s 12-year grip on power

Source: CNN

Naftali Bennett was sworn in as Israel’s new prime minister on Sunday, after winning a confidence vote with the narrowest of margins, just 60 votes to 59. His victory ends a 12-year grip on power by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s longest-serving leader. After four elections in two years, Bennett’s incoming government breaks a long political deadlock and ushers in the most diverse coalition Israel has ever seen, including the first Arab party to serve in the government. In his speech before the Knesset confidence vote, Bennett celebrated the diversity and warned of polarization within the country.”Twice in history, we have lost our national home precisely because the leaders of the generation were not able to sit with one and another and compromise. Each was right, yet with all their being right, they burnt the house down on top of us,” Bennett said. “I am proud of the ability to sit together with people with very different views from my own.”

Israel's new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his coalition partner Ayeet Shaked speak behind Benjamin Netanyahu during the Knesset session.

During the debate ahead of the swearing-in, Netanyahu had assailed the coalition that ousted him from the Prime Minister’s Office after a record 12 consecutive years, calling it a “weak” and “dangerous” government. Long considered the “magician” of Israeli politics, Netanyahu had survived years of challenges to his power, outlasting and outmaneuvering his opponents. But on this night, he had too many opponents who wanted to see him gone.After touting his accomplishments throughout his years in office, Netanyahu assailed his rivals.”You call yourself the guardians of democracy, but you are so afraid of democracy that you are ready to pass fascist laws against my candidacy — the language of North Korea and Iran — in order to maintain your regime,” he said, referring to speculation that the new government would impose term limits or make it illegal for someone who has been indicted to be Prime Minister. Warning that the new government would not stand up to Iran, Netanyahu warned his internal rivals and outside enemies, “We’ll be back soon.”

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Categories: Asia, Israel, Middle East

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