Bennett Sworn in as Israel's Prime Minister, Ending Netanyahu's 12-year Rule

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Pics: Noam Moskowitz/Knesset, Gil COHEN-MAGEN, Ariel Zandberg

Islamist party leader says colleague's abstention in confidence vote was agreed to in advance

United Arab List head Mansour Abbas said in a radio interview on Monday morning that his party is part of the coalition, and added "If it is up to us, there will be no crisis."

Abbas also said that lawmaker Saeed Alkharum's abstention from Sunday's confidence vote for the new government was agreed to in advance, and noted that Alkharum would have participated in the vote had the majority vote needed to form the new government been in danger of coming up short.

Abbas added that in his party "all partners are expected to behave in a positive manner and to respond to the demands of Arab society. We have concentrated on what is good for the citizens of the country in general and in particular, the Arab citizens of the country."

"We have signed a coalition agreement that regulates our relationship with the government. There are things we expect to achieve and move on," he said.

United Arab List leader Mansour Abbas and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Knesset on Sunday


India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulates Bennett, thanks Netanyahu

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday congratulated Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and expressed his gratitude to Outgoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a series of posts on Twitter written in both Hebrew and English, following the formation of the new government Sunday.

To Bennett, Modi wrote: "Congratulations on becoming the Prime Minister of Israel. As we celebrate 30 years of the upgradation of diplomatic relations next year, I look forward to meeting you and deepening the strategic partnership between our two countries."


A few minutes later, Modi tweeted a message directed to Netanyahu, in which he conveyed his "profound gratitude" for Netanyhau's "leadership and personal attention to India-Israel strategic partnership."


Ben Samuels

U.S. Vice President Harris congratulates Bennett, Lapid and rest of cabinet

The Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris congratulated overnight into Monday Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid as well as the rest of the cabinet on the formation of a new government.

"We look forward to working closely with Israel’s new government to build on the strong bonds between our two countries and advance security and peace for Israelis and Palestinians," Harris said in a statement.


EU congratulates Bennett, Lapid

The President of the European Council Charles Michel congratulated overnight into Monday Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid following the formation of the new government.

"Looking forward to strengthen EU-Israel partnership for common prosperity and towards lasting regional peace and stability," Michel tweeted.

Ben Samuels

Blinken, Lapid discuss 'U.S. commitment to Israel's security' in first call

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warmly congratulated the Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in a phone call on Sunday night following the new government's swearing-in.

"The Secretary and the Minister discussed the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security, the importance of maintaining a cessation of hostilities, opportunities to deepen and broaden normalization of diplomatic relations, the threat posed by Iran, and other regional priorities," the State Department said, adding that Blinken looks forward to welcoming Lapid to Washington "soon."

Michael Hauser Tov

Bennett, Biden speak, agree to 'consult closely' on Iran

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and U.S. President Joe Biden spoke on the phone, about two hours after the new Israeli government was sworn in.

A statement from Bennett's office said the two "stressed the importance of the alliance between Israel and the United States, as well as their commitment to strengthening ties ... and maintaining Israel's security."

The White House said Biden "highlighted his decades of steadfast support for the U.S.-Israel relationship and his unwavering commitment to Israel’s security."

"The leaders agreed that they and their teams would consult closely on all matters related to regional security, including Iran," the statement added. "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."

The Associated Press

Palestinian President Abbas: New government is 'internal Israeli affair'

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s office has little to say about Israel’s new government headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, calling it an “internal Israeli affair.”

Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeneh said Sunday that the Palestinian position remains “adherence to international legitimacy and the two-state solution by establishing an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

The new Israeli government includes a wide spectrum of parties ranging from hard-line nationalists to more dovish supporters of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Members of the new government have said they will avoid dealing with the divisive issue for the time being.

Bennett hails 'new day' as he convenes first cabinet meeting

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett convened his cabinet for the first time on Sunday night for a brief meeting, telling its members that "[w]e are at the beginning of a new day. We will work to mend the rift among our people and to return the country to functioning."

He told his new cabinet that in order to ensure that the ideologically diverse government succeeds, "we must all maintain restraint and moderation in ideological terms."

Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett at the first cabinet meeting of the new government, Sunday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Noa Shpigel

Three new cabinet members resign as members of Knesset

Three new members of cabinet have announced their resignation from the Knesset, making use of a law allowing them to give up their seats but remain in the cabinet. Yamina's Matan Kahana and New Hope's Zeev Elkin and Yoaz Hendel will each replaced by the next people on their parties' election slates: Shirly Pinto in Yamina's case, and Meir Yitzhak Halevi and Zvi Hauser in New Hope's case.

Ben Samuels

Blinken 'warmly welcomes' new government

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. "warmly welcomes the announcement of a new government of the State of Israel."

Blinken said the U.S. looks forward to working closely with Bennett, Lapid and the new Israeli cabinet. "The United States will continue to work with Israel to advance the cause of peace, and we remain unwavering in our commitment to Israel's security," he said.

Blinken added the U.S. looks forward to strengthening all aspects of the U.S.-Israel partnership and working together for a more secure and prosperous future.

Ben Samuels

Biden congratulates Bennett and Lapid for new government

U.S. President Joe Biden congratulated Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his coalition partners moments after they were sworn in, saying in a statement he “looks forward to working with Prime Minister Bennett to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations.”

“Israel has no better friend than the United States,” Biden said. “The bond that unites our people is evidence of our shared values and decades of close cooperation and as we continue to strengthen our partnership, the United States remains unwavering in its support for Israel’s security.”

Biden added his administration was “fully committed to working with the new Israeli government to advance security, stability, and peace for Israelis, Palestinians, and people throughout the broader region.”

Ben Samuels

U.S. Jewish orgs welcome new Israeli government helmed by Bennett and Lapid

WASHINGTON - Jewish and pro-Israel organizations in America welcomed the new Israeli government helmed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, highlighting the hope they see in the diverse coalition.

Democratic Majority for Israel, the organization founded by senior Yair Lapid advisor and veteran pollster Mark Mellman that seeks to bolster support for Israel within the Democratic Party, highlighted how the unity government will be its most inclusive ever, noting the diversity of the parties and the presence of Arabs, women and Jews of color at senior level positions.

New Israel Fund CEO Daniel Sokatch directly criticized former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's legacy, saying it "will echo in Israeli society even when he is gone." He noted the ideological diversity of the incoming coalition could help Israelis heal from last month's intercommunal violence "and reassert that Israel is a country that believes in and stands for the values of equality and justice."

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations "applauded Israel's vibrant democracy" after the vote, congratulating Bennett and Lapid while saluting Netanyahu for his "immense legacy" of service to Israel and world Jewry.

Bennett sworn in as prime minister, ending 12 years of Netanyahu rule

Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett was sworn in 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.

The coalition consists of eight parties – Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid, Naftali Bennett's Yamina, New Hope, Labor, Meretz, United Arab List, Kahol Lavan and Yisrael Beiteinu.

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.

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.

Head of Oposition Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett gesture following the vote on the new coalition at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem June 13, 2021. Credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Noa Shpigel

Naftali Bennett voted in as PM, unseating Netanyahu after 12 years in office

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.

The coalition consists of eight parties – Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid, Naftali Bennett's Yamina, New Hope, Labor, Meretz, United Arab List, Kahol Lavan and Yisrael Beiteinu.

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.

With caucus speeches over, Knesset moves to elect new speaker

The Knesset moved to elect a new speaker to replace Likud's Yariv Levin. Yesh Atid nominated MK Mickey Levy and Shas nominated Yaakov Margi.

After a roll call, Margi won 52 votes. The Knesset is now voting on Levy's nomination.

Benny Gantz bashes Netanyahu: No political move justifies the conflict you create with the U.S.

Benny Gantz, the chairman of Kahol Lavan, addressed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directly in his speech to the Knesset, accusing the Likud leader of straining the relationship between Israel and the United States.

"Israel's security never depended on one person and will never depend on one person," Gantz said.

Addresing Netanyahu, Gantz said: "We both know who ran the security establishment this past year, we both know who went to the U.S. after the F-35 deal you tried to hide." Gantz was referring to the agreement with the United States, which allowed the sale of advanced jet fighters to the United Arab Emirates.

"No political maneuver justifies your breaking the lines and the conflict you create with the U.S., our dearest friend," Gantz said.

United Arab List's Abbas: This is a great opportunity, we won't give up our principles

The chairman of the United Arab List party, Mansour Abbas, whose party is to be the first Arab party to participate in a governing coalition, said in Arabic in his Knesset speech that "we are facing a great opportunity, we won't give up our principles."

In his Arabic speech, Abbas explained how the coalition will achieve many accomplishments for the Arab community, and noted various clauses in the coalition agreement to support his argument, including increased funding for Arab communities.

In his Arabic speech, Abbas explained how the coalition will achieve many accomplishments for the Arab community, and noted various clauses in the coalition agreement to support his argument, including increased funding for Arab communities.

In conclusion, Abbas switched to Hebrew to address the planned regulation of Bedouin towns in the Negev. "No one sold the Negev to Ra'am [UAL]. The Negev is still inside the State of Israel, the residents of the Negev are citizens of Israel," he said. "I hope that the civilian partnership will bridge the gaps at the national level."

Michael Hauser Tov

Joint List's Odeh: This is a bad government

Hadash-Ta’al leader Ayman Odeh warned against the right-wing ideologies of members of the new coalition. "This is not the child we were hoping for. This is a bad government," he said.

"Certainly this is a time for joy, but not for complacence," he said. "Today we're being liberated from the 'Yes Bibi'-'No Bibi' doctrines."

Noa Shpigel

Labor's Michaeli attacks Religious Zionist MKs for 'exploiting terror victims'

Labor leader Merav Michaeli rebuked Knesset members from Netanyahu's coalition for holding up photographs of terror attack victims in the chamber.

"I sympathize with the pain of losing power, it's never pleasant to lose. But no loss justifies the cynical, ugly exploitation of photographs of people who were murdered," she said. "No loss justifies the incitement we witnessed here, during the transfer of power," she said.

Several lawmakers from the Religious Zionism party, among them Orit Struk and Itamar Ben-Gvir, held up pictures of terror attack victims before they were asked to leave the floor.

Religious Zionism's leader Bezalel Smotrich raises a photo of a terror victim as Knesset guard officers try to escort him off the floor, today.

Noa Shpigel

Haredi leaders rail at new cabinet: 'In what way are you Jews?'

United Torah Judaism Chairman Moshe Gafni railed against the incoming Bennett government from the Knesset rostrum, accusing its members of abandoning Judaism and effectively erasing Israel’s unique religious identity.

“In what way are you Jews,” he thundered, accusing members of the so-called change bloc of turning their backs on Shabbat observance, Torah study and the Western Wall. “What’s different from any other country in the world?”

Israel’s ultra-orthodox parties have expressed concern over the new government’s coalition agreements, which support measures to draft yeshiva students currently exempt from national service, hand control of the rabbinate to the religious-Zionist community and allow public transportation on shabbat.

The agreements also include clauses calling for the creation of competition in kashrut services, opening up the possibility of conversion through municipal rabbinical authorities and the establishment of a special division to support Reform and Conservative Jews in Israel.

Yisrael Beiteinu’s coalition agreement also includes a non-binding clause calling for an amendment that would revoke the interior minister's ability to close businesses on Shabbat.

Speaking at a Knesset gathering, held last week to discuss how to push back against proposed changes to the country’s religious status quo, Gafni called Bennett “wicked,” while UTJ MK Yaakov Litzman demanded that he “remove his kippah.”

“He shames his kippah and I think it is a great insolence. At least everyone should understand that he is a Reform” Jew, Litzman stated.

Shas leader Arye Dery told the Knesset that the haredi parties were not invited to join the new coalition, and added that they wouldn't have joined even if asked.

Michael Hauser Tov

Attacking 'dangerous, left government,' Netanyahu promises to topple it soon

In the conclusion of his speech, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attacked the new coalition, focusing his criticism on Naftali Bennett's Yamina party. Bennett is "fake right," Netanyahu said, while praising Yamina member Amichai Shikli, who had promised to vote against the new coalition.

"He isn't the defector," Netanyahu said. "You, Yamina members, are the defectors."

Netanyahu accused the new coalition of seeking to enact fascist, anti-democratic laws against him. "Just like dictatorships reject candidates who can threaten the regime," he said.

Addressing his voters, Netanyahu said: "I will lead you against this dangerous, leftist government. God willing, we will topple it sooner than you think."

After Netanyahu's speech, the leaders of the Knesset caucuses are addressing the floor.

Netanyahu: We must prevent a Palestinian state

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset that the second greatest challenge facing Israel is to prevent a Palestinian state. "The new U.S. administration is already acting in this direction, it is demanding a construction freeze and to reopen the Palestinian consulate in East Jerusalem," Netanyahu said.

Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.

Netanyahu ignored request to step aside, lawmaker says

In Benjamin Netanyahu’s final hours as prime minister, some of his closest political allies in the ultra-Orthodox camp expressed their regret that he did not step aside, making room for another right-wing leader who could potentially have built a workable Likud party-led coalition.

Speaking on Sunday only hours before the new government headed by Yamina and Yesh Atid chairmen Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid is expected to be sworn in, United Torah Judaism Knesset faction chair MK Yitzhak Pindrus told Kan public broadcaster that Netanyahu refused ultra-Orthodox requests to allow himself to be replaced “because he knew we were no real threat to him because we could not go with the other side.”

“We’re not Naftali Bennett, after all,” he quipped, referring to incoming Prime Minister Bennett’s promise to voters not to leave Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc.

Read the full story here.

Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.

Netanyahu Evokes Holocaust to Attack Bennett on Iran: 'Who's Going to Say No to Biden?'

Benjamin Netanyahu evoked the Holocaust to suggest that the incoming government headed by Naftali Bennett would be incapable of standing up to pressure by U.S. President Joe Biden.

Describing the incoming government as an existential threat to the state of Israel, Netanyahu claimed that Biden, his “friend of 40 years,” asked him to keep their disagreements about Washington’s attempt to rejoin its nuclear agreement with Iran out of the public eye but that he had rejected his entreaties.

“In 1944, at the height of the Holocaust, Roosevelt refused to bomb the trains and gas [chambers], which could have saved many of our people. Today we have a voice, we have a country and we have a defensive force,” he said, in an implicit rebuke of Biden.

“Bennett hasn’t got the international standing, the integrity, the capability, the knowledge and he hasn’t got the government to oppose the nuclear agreement. That is the biggest problem. An Israeli PM needs to be able to say no to the leader of the world’s superpower,” Netanyahu declared, asserting that he did not believe Bennett would be willing to take unilateral action against Iran if necessary.

“At most, members of the government will say some weak statements,” he stated. “Iran is celebrating because they understand that from today there will be a weak government in Israel that will align with the dictates of the international community.”

“I have a message for Iran and its leader – the opposition will have a strong voice. And I have an even stronger message – will be back soon.”

It was not the first time that the outgoing prime minister used rhetoric appearing to describe Bennett and the Biden administration as existential threats.

“What will it do for Israel's deterrence? How will we look in the eyes of our enemies,” Netanyahu asked in a speech two weeks ago about the possibility of an anti-Netanyahu coalition being formed. “What will they do in Iran and in Gaza? What will they say in the halls of government in Washington?”

Netanyahu: We have achieved unprecedent diplomatic success

Netanyahu addressed the Knesset, saying that he will continue to ensure the security and prosperity of Israel from the opposition. "We will go into the opposition with our head held high until we topple this government," he said.

"I am standing here as the elected official of over a million citizens who have voted for the Likud under my leadership, and a million others who have voted for right-wing parties supporting me," he said.

Netanyahu said that under his leadership, the right-wing has made Israel into a world leader. "We did this without surrendering to international pressures, but by fostering the economic the defensive prowess of the State of Israel," he said.

Netanyahu addressing lawmakers.Credit: Knessett

Netanyahu stressed the efforts of his government against the Iranian nuclear project. "Our resolve influenced the previous U.S. administration to leave the [Iran] deal," he said.

Netanyahu emphasized the diplomatic achievements of his government: the relocation of the American embassy to Jerusalem, U.S. recognition of Israeli rights to the Golan Heights, a special relationship with Russia, and normalization deals with Arab states.

"In complete contradiction to the left's prediction of diplomatic isolation, a diplomatic tsunami… the fostering of military and economic prowess has led to an unprecedented diplomatic resurgence, and many countries are seeking to be closer to us," Netanyahu said.

Turning to the economy, Netanyahu said that under his leadership taxes were lowered and monopolies were broken. "We have connected the outskirts of Israel to the center with roads, tunnels and junctions," he said.

On security, Netanyahu said that under his leadership Israel had enjoyed a relative quiet from Palestinian terrorism and attacks.

Yair Lapid goes up podium, bashes hecklers, and returns to seat

Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid took the podium after Naftali Bennett, but used only one minute out of his nine allotted in order to reprimand the Knesset members who had continuously heckled incoming Prime Minister Bennett.

"Every Israeli citizen is embarrassed in you and is now reminded of why we have to replace you," Lapid said before returning to his seat.

Bennett: Hamas will run into wall of steel if resumes violence

Bennett told the Knesset that Israel must remember and keep reminding the world that Israel has a right to the territories which it holds. "I hope the cease-fire in the south will continue, but if Hamas will choose the way of violence against Israelis again, it will run into a wall of steel," he said.

Bennett thanked U.S. President Joe Biden for standing by Israel during the last violence in Gaza, and said that Israel will look to improve its relationship with both sides of the aisle at Congress.

After his speech, Bennett outlined the formation of the new government and the rotation agreement between himself and Yair Lapid.

Read Bennett's full speech.

Chaim Levinson

Hoping to add Haredim to coalition, Bennett makes overture to their voters

Bennett's appeal to the Haredi public – which included a mention of the housing crisis and the establishment of a inquiry commission into the Mount Meron disaster – reflected a wish to bolster the coalition in the future with the ultra-Orthodox parties. According to Bennett, the new coalition, which relies on 61 Knesset members, would not be able to survive for long.

Read Bennett's full speech.

Bennett: Resuming nuclear deal with Iran is a mistake

Israel will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, Yamina head Naftali Bennett told the Knesset ahead of a confidence vote on a new government under his leadership.

"Resuming a nuclear deal with Iran is a mistake that will legitimize one of the world's most violent regimes," he said.

"Israel will hold on to its complete freedom of action [on Iran]," Bennett said.

Read Bennett's full speech.

Bennett promises new chapter in state's relationship with Arab citizens

Addressing the Knesset ahead of the confidence vote, Yamina head Naftali Bennett said that the incoming government will open a new chapter in the relationship between the state and Israel's Arab citizens, thanking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the role he played in this process.

"Israel's Arab citizens will be represented in the coalition by Mansour Abbas and the United Arab List," Bennett said. "I have to give the credit to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who had paved the way [for this]," he added.

Islamist party UAL leader Mansour Abbas, right.Credit: GIL COHEN-MAGEN - AFP

Bennett promised to address the housing needs of the Arab communities and to work on regularization of the unrecognized Bedouin towns in the southern Negev desert.

Bennet also vowed "respect" for the ultra-Orthodox community, whose leaders aren't part of his government, promising greater investment in the community.

Read Bennett's full speech.

Bennett promises to shut down unnecessary cabinet ministries

Addressing the Knesset ahead of the confidence vote, Yamina head Naftali Bennett told the Knesset that the new government will strive for practical solutions, and detailed various policy steps the coalition will take under his leadership.

Bennett said the new government will shut down a number of cabinet ministries, will expand public education, and will exempt Haredi youths from military service at age 21, releasing them to join the workforce.

"Finance Minister Lieberman will lead a program to lower unemployment caused by the coronavirus," Bennett said, promising to reduce government regulation on businesses.

Bennett promised to break the kashrut monopoly, to open a new university in the Galilee.

"The new government represents citizens from Efrat to Tel Aviv, from Rahat to Kiryat Shmona," he said.

Read Bennett's full speech.

Anshel Pfeffer

Bennett looked flustered, but heckles were just Netanyahu's gov't last gasps

When Bennett started addressing the floor, he looked stressed. He seemed bent over a little under the weight of history, and it was hard for him to be heard over the heckles of the soon-to-be opposition. For a moment, he seemed flustered when he understood that this will not be a speech for the history books.

But somewhere in between the growls "Liar! Liar! Liar!" from MK Galit Distal Atbaryan and the shrieks of MK Mai Golan as she was escorted out of the chamber, a smile spread across Bennett's face. He understood that the energies exerted by the Likud members, by the ultra-Orthodox, by the Smotriches and Ben-Gvirs in order to interrupt his speech are just veiling the fact that they lost. There would be no defector or 11th hour trick. This is the last gasp of the Netanyahu government. The heckling was all they had left, and their jeers only demonstrate why the coalition constructed for Bennett by Lapid is so desperately needed right now.

Amid constant jeers, Bennett warns Knesset: our discord imperils Israel

Yamina head Naftali Bennett rose to the podium to address the Knesset ahead of a confidence vote that would install him as prime minister, unseating Benjamin Netanyahu after 12 years in power.

Bennett's speech was interrupted by jeers from members of the Likud. Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin was calling them to order. Levin addressed the hecklers. "I don't want to ask ministers to leave," he said.

Bennett began 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.

Bennett's full speech in EnglishCredit: Noa Landau

"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.

"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 generousity and patience. Without him, we wouldn't be here today," Bennett said.

Read full story

Knesset convenes for special session

The Knesset convened for the special session to vote on the new government, led by Yamina head Naftali Bennett.

Bennett at the Knesset, today.Credit: Ariel Schalit/AP

Bennett entered the chamber amid jeers from members of the Religious Zionism party. Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin called them to order, and they were escorted out of the room.

Michael Hauser Tov

Lapid's speech to stress need to heal political rifts

In his speech ahead of the confidence vote in the Knesset, Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid is expected to highlight the necessity of closing the political rifts dividing Israeli society and Israel's urgent need for a functioning government. Lapid will likely also emphasize that the incoming prime minister, Yamina's Naftali Bennett, has his support and that he is certain he will accomplish significant achievements for Israel.

Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid at the Knesset, todayCredit: RONEN ZVULUN/Reuters

Two hours ahead of vote, coalition leaders gather at Knesset

Two hours before the vote of confidence that would unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the heads of the new coalition parties are meeting at the Knesset. Before walking into the conference room, United Arab List chairman Mansour Abbas told reporters: "There will be a government. I'm telling you – there will be a government."

Around 3:00 P.M., the party caucuses will convene separately ahead of the vote.

Arab lawmaker threatens not to support new gov't

Knesset Member Saeed Alkharum threatened he would not vote in favor of the Bennet-Lapid government in Sunday's confidence vote at the Knesset. This comes after days of pressure from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Office aimed at convincing the Arab lawmaker to turn against the new coalition.

Alkharum denied that he had been under any pressure. "There will be a government today," he said.

Officials in the United Arab List said that they believe Alkharum will vote for the new government or at the most that he would abstain. In either case, the new government will have enough votes.

Michael Hauser Tov

Cleaving to Netanyahu's hard line, Bennett to speak against Biden's Iran diplomacy

Incoming Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is set to express a staunch opposition to a new international agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear project in his speech tonight after the swearing-in ceremony at the Knesset.

Bennett is expected to demonstrate willingness to cooperate with the Biden administration and to thank the United States for supporting Israel during the latest violence in Gaza.

However, Bennett will oppose recent White House efforts to resume the nuclear deal signed between Iran and the Obama administration, which had been revoked by former President Donald Trump. As such, Bennett's policy on Iran would be in line with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's position on the issue.

Michael Hauser Tov

Lawmaker splits from Lieberman's party, will still vote for new gov't

Lawmaker Eli Avidar is expected to announce his split from Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, after not receiving the ministerial portfolio that he wanted. Avidar will remain in the Knesset as an independent lawmaker.

Avidar said that he would still vote in favor of the formation of the new government headed by Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid.

Avidar eyed the agriculture and rural development portfolio but instead the post is expected to be filled by lawmaker Oded Forer. He will also serve as minister for the development of the Negev and Galilee.

Avidar was offered to serve as a minister in the Finance Ministry, but he refused. The post is expected to be filled by lawmaker Hamad Amar.

'Unprecedented' is an understatement: How the Bennett-Lapid coalition can survive

Our hearts are filled with excitement as 4 P.M. on Sunday approaches, when the Knesset is set to vote to end Benjamin Netanyahu’s prolonged rule, but our brains insist on spoiling the party.

We still remember those TV images from 1990 of Sonia Peres in a rare public appearance in the Knesset visitors’ gallery, waiting in vain for the swearing-in of her husband, Shimon, and his government at the height of the so-called “stinking maneuver” to unseat the national unity government.

Ravit Hecht

Netanyahu won't surrender so long as his trial moves forward

Nobody is taking their eyes off the monitor during this risky birth. Until the new government is sworn in, nothing is final. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opponents fear an unexpected obstacle on the way to the historic moment for which they’ve hungered so many years, Netanyahu’s departure from government. Among Likudniks there are still pockets of denial – a desperate expectation that their magician will still manage to pull some Elkin out of a hat or perform some other trick to change reality.

Yossi Verter

Bennett-Lapid gov't is entirely Netanyahu's own doing

A few days after the May 17, 1999 election won by Ehud Barak, the outgoing cabinet secretary, Gideon Sa’ar, went to the prime minister’s residence. He found the soon-to-be-former occupant in the basement, pedaling furiously on an exercise bike. “Have to start working on my comeback,” Benjamin Netanyahu said between breaths.

A decade later, he returned. A dozen years have passed since then, and on Sunday he will say goodbye (insert standard warning here: unless …) to the position and perhaps also to the dream. By the way, Sa’ar had a significant hand in Netanyahu’s return to power in 2009, and an even greater one in ousting him from power in the last election.



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Election ad featuring Yair Lapid in Rahat, the largest Arab city in Israel's Negev region.

This Bedouin City Could Decide Who Is Israel's Next Prime Minister

Dr. Claris Harbon in the neighborhood where she grew up in Ashdod.

A Women's Rights Lawyer Felt She Didn't Belong in Israel. So She Moved to Morocco

Mohammed 'Moha' Alshawamreh.

'It Was Real Shock to Move From a Little Muslim Village, to a Big Open World'

From the cover of 'Shmutz.'

'There Are Similarities Between the Hasidic Community and Pornography’

A scene from Netflix's "RRR."

‘RRR’: If Cocaine Were a Movie, It Would Look Like This

Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

Yair Lapid's Journey: From Late-night Host to Israel's Prime Minister