Netanyahu Allies Heckle Bennett in Chaotic Knesset Scene Ahead of Confidence Vote

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Bezalel Smotrich interrupts Naftali Bennett's speech in the Knesset, Sunday.
Bezalel Smotrich interrupts Naftali Bennett's speech in the Knesset, Sunday.Credit: Noam Moskowitz/Knesset

Supporters of outgoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly disrupted Yamina Chairman Naftali Bennett as the incoming prime minister attempted to deliver a speech from the Knesset plenum on Sunday afternoon prior to a vote of confidence in his new government.

Bennett, who thanked Netanyahu for his years of service to the state of Israel, endured extended heckling and screaming from Netanyahu loyalists, including Transportation Minister Miri Regev and Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis. 

Despite Bennett’s pleas for silence, the chamber was filled with loud recriminations from lawmakers who had spent years in power and appeared enraged at the prospect of entering the opposition.

Far-right lawmakers Bezalel Smotrich, chairman of the Religious Zionism party, and Itamar Ben-Gvir, head of the Kahanist Otzma Yehudit, were both removed from the chamber after disrupting the proceedings.

Bennett began his remarks by thanking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his service.

"We didn't always agree, but you both sacrificed greatly for the State of Israel," Bennett said, referring to Netanyahu and his wife Sara.

"Israel is not just like any other country, it is the dream of generations of Jews from Marrakesh to Budapest, from Baghdad to San Francisco… Every generation has its challenges and every generation has the leaders it needs," Bennett said.

Naftali Bennett speaks at the Knesset, Sunday.Credit: Noam Moskowitz

"There are moments in Jewish history when disagreement goes out of control and imperils us," Bennett said.

"We are facing an internal challenge, the rift tearing our people apart, which we can see here right now. This rift… has led us to a whirlpool of hatred and internecine feuds," Bennett said.

"We have lost our national home twice in our history, exactly because the leaders of those generations couldn't sit with each other and compromise," Bennett said, shouting to be heard over the heckling from Netanyahu's coalition.

Bennett thanked incoming foreign minister Yair Lapid, "who has shown great national responsibility, political generous and patience. Without him, we wouldn't be here today," Bennett said.

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