Israel Inaugurates New Government

The leader of the opposition party Benjamin Netanyahu shakes the hand of Israel's new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem, Sunday (photo: Reuters)

Tel Aviv, MINA – Israel on Sunday inaugurated a new government, ending Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year rule and making Naftali Bennett – the head of a small religious ultranationalist party – as the new leader of the Jewish state, thus quoted from Voice of America.

Under a power-sharing agreement among eight political parties, Bennett will serve as prime minister for two years. The agreement was initially nearly impossible to reach because there was little in common between the eight parties, except when it came to ending Netanyahu’s tumultuous tenure.

Bennett is a former ally of Netanyahu who served as defense minister in 2019 and 2020.

Bennett, who is 49, will be replaced by Yair Lapid, who is 57, for the next two years. Yair Lapid, who once served as finance minister, is also known as a former television anchor who brokered a deal to oust Netanyahu. In Israel’s election last March or the fourth in two years Yair Lapid won the second-largest total of votes after Netanyahu’s Likud party.

Netanyahu, who has sought to thwart the eight-party coalition that toppled him, will remain leader of the opposition. However, he will soon be tried on corruption charges.

The new governing coalition marks the first time an Arab party, the Ra’am Islam Party, has joined an Israeli governing coalition. The Islamic party of Ra’am is seeking a share of funding from new programs for Arab citizens in Israel, who make up 20% of the total population.

At the same time, for the first time since 1977, there were two brief exceptions. First, the ultra-Orthodox party will not be part of the government. They have so far formed a solid foundation for the Netanyahu government and their omission could hinder the influence of ultra-Orthodox rabbis in matters of religious and family law. Second, the liberation of the Jewish-Orthodox community from military service.

In his last significant role as Israel’s leader, Netanyahu monitored the air war with Hamas in Gaza last month. There is speculation within Israel that a war against Hamas, which US. considers a terrorist organization, could thwart efforts to oust Netanyahu. But opposition parties have continued negotiations to form an anti-Netanyahu alliance shortly after the May 21 truce.

Bennett’s takeover of power could shift the government towards a more center political direction, where the coalition of ruling parties has a divergent direction from the left, center and right.

In four elections, Netanyahu’s Likud party has won the most seats in Israel’s parliament – ​​known as the Knessett – which has 120 members, but has never managed to garner a 61 majority to form a government.

Netanyahu has vowed to oppose the new governing coalition and said it could disband if any of the eight parties opposed any major issue. (T/RE1)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)