Bennett Sworn in as Israel's Prime Minister, Ending 12 Years of Netanyahu Rule

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Israelis celebrate the establishment of a new government at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, on Sunday.
Israelis celebrate the establishment of a new government at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, on Sunday.Credit: RONEN ZVULUN/ REUTERS

Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett was sworn in on Sunday as Israel's 13th prime minister, ending Benjamin Netanyahu's 12 consecutive years in office. Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid was sworn in as the alternate prime minister.

Bennett will lead a coalition composed of parties from polar opposites of the Israeli political spectrum: from his own right-wing party to the centrist Yesh Atid, the leftist Labor and Meretz and the Islamist party, the United Arab List. Holding this fragile alliance together, with Netanyahu sniping from the opposition, will be a challenging task.

The new Bennett-Lapid government won the Knesset confidence vote, with 60 voting for, 59 against and one abstaining. Having received the confidence of the Knesset, the new government, with Yamina's Naftali Bennett as prime minister, will now be sworn in, unseating Benjamin Netanyahu after 12 years in office.

Naftali Bennett at the Knesset, on Sunday.Credit: Reuters

A rotation agreement has been agreed upon by Bennett and Lapid in which Bennett will serve as prime minister for two years with Lapid as foreign minister. Later, Lapid will assume the premiership for the following two years with Bennett as interior minister.

The vote came after a chaotic Knesset session, in which Bennett's speech was repeatedly interrupted by heckling from Netanyahu allies on the floor. Bennett promised an unwavering opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, and to heal the rifts in Israeli society. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after listing his achievements as Israel's leader, railed against Bennett, evoking the Holocaust and saying that Bennett does not have the capacity to stand up to the United States.

After over two hours of caucus speeches, the Knesset elected a new speaker, MK Mickey Levy of Yesh Atid, who immediately called a confidence vote on a new governing coalition led by Bennett. 

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