Netanyahu: We Will Topple the 'Fraudulent' Bennett Government

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Naftali Bennett's government with Israeli president Reuven Rivlin, today in Jerusalem
Naftali Bennett's government with Israeli president Reuven Rivlin, today in JerusalemCredit: Emil Salman

Bennett government begins work as ministers take office

The ministers of the newly sworn-in Bennett-Lapid government met with President Reuven Rivlin Monday to take the traditional photograph of the prime minister and his new cabinet.

Throughout the day, the ministers will be assuming their new posts at their respective ministries.

The government, helmed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, was sworn in on Sunday night, after the Knesset held a confidence vote that ended with 60-59 in favor of the coalition.

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.

Naftali Bennett's government with Israeli president Reuven Rivlin, today in JerusalemCredit: Emil Salman

Ben Samuels

Sen. Menendez congratulates new government

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez extended well-wishes to each other, one day after the new coalition helmed by Lapid and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett successfully assumed power.

"I congratulate the people of Israel on the swearing-in of their new government, representing a broad swath of parties & constituencies. The U.S.-Israel partnership is rooted in shared democratic values and I look forward to working with Israel’s new leadership to strengthen that bond," Menendez tweeted.

Lapid responded that he "look forward to working with you to deepen and strengthen the special relationship between Israel and the United States based on our deeply held shared values." His response comes hours after he stressed the need to renew support for Israel amongst the Democratic Party.

Menendez, perhaps the most pro-Israel stalwart in the Senate, offered rare criticism of Israel's actions during last month's Gaza fighting. Israeli officials were more concerned with his criticism than perhaps any other lawmaker.


UAE foreign minister speaks with Lapid

The United Arab Emirates' foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, discussed in a phone call with his Israeli counterpart "the bilateral cooperation between the two countries, in addition to the Abraham Accords," the minister's office wrote in a tweet on Monday.

Bin Zayed congratulated the foreign minister, Yair Lapid, on his new position and wished him success, the tweet said.

Michael Hauser Tov

Bennett gets to work from the prime minister's office

Naftali Bennett began his term as prime minister on Monday, and toured the prime minister's office and met with employees.

He immediately began working, including meeting with the military secretary and the head of the National Security Council who presented briefings on security matters to the prime minister.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the prime minister's office on Monday.Credit: Amos Ben Gershom / Government Press Office

Netael Bandel

Attorney general: Gantz protected Justice Ministry 'like a fortified wall'

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit credited outgoing Justice Minister Benny Gantz with putting the brakes on attacks against the Justice Ministry during a handover speech at the Justice Ministry on Monday.

Gideon Sa'ar, the incoming justice minister, said he would work to reform the justice system.

"I can recall the cabinet discussions on appointing senior officials and you, Minister Gantz, stood like a fortified wall against attempts to undermine the status of the state attorney general," Mendelblit said. "It is no secret that the Justice Ministry went through an all-too-long period of instability. Many of the senior positions have not been filled for a long time."

Sa'ar said in his speech that the public discussion regarding the justice system moves between two poles: "those who cat it as legitimate and those who vilify it and suggest undermining its foundations." He noted, "The truth is there are things to fix in the justice system," adding: "I've come to reform. To reform, yes, to destroy, no."

Avichai Mendelblit, left, Gideon Sa'ar, center, and Benny Gantz at the Justice Ministry, on Monday.Credit: Emil Salman

Jonathan Lis

Minister Horowitz: Israel's health system, not any individual, defeated COVID

Incoming Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said that Israel's heath system, which was built on social democratic values, and not any given individual, defeated the coronavirus, during the handover ceremony at the ministry.

"We are obliged to strengthen it with appropriate resources," he added.

"The right to health is our moral obligation to ensure quality and egalitarian health services," he stated. "In this regard, there is no difference whether you are a Haredi person from Bnei Brak, a transgender woman from Tel Aviv, an Arab from Sakhnin or a retiree from Be'er Sheva. There is only one category – humans."

Horowitz said his goal was to ensure that no parties with conflicts of interest or corrupt figures would harm the professionalism or dedication within the ministry.

"The coronavirus pandemic was Israel public health's finest hour," he noted. "The health system was established on social-democratic values of the welfare state – that is what defeated coronavirus, not one individual or another."

Bar Peleg

Ayelet Shaked: ‘I’ll move to return infiltrators to their countries’

Israel’s new interior minister, Ayelet Shaked, said on Monday at her handover ceremony that she would move to return asylum seekers to their countries of origin and to pressure them to leave Israel for a third country.

“It’s a strategic matter. We will protect the borders and the country,” she said. “Israel is a Jewish and democratic country, and I will move with all my might to implement a responsible immigration policy while providing a fair solution for well-founded humanitarian situations.”

The former prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had struck a deal with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in April 2018 to end the operation deporting thousands of asylum seekers to Rwanda and instead to settle some of them in Israel and some in the West.

However, he scrapped the deal within a day due to pressure from his coalition partners and harsh criticism from the right, including current Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Shaked.

Noa Shpigel

Netanyahu: We will topple the 'fraudulent' Bennett government

Benjamin Netanyahu rallied his party in his first meeting as opposition leader, asserting that his right-wing bloc of parties will work tirelessly to topple the "dangerous, fraudulent, leftist government."

The new Bennett-led government, he told Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism and Religious Zionism, will fall due to the three factors that unite it: "hatred, exclusion and power. A lust for power that knows no bounds, and on this you cannot build a government." He reiterated the claim that Bennett committed election fraud by deceiving his voters with promises he did not keep.

He pointed to the 53 Knesset seats in his bloc, which he maintained are "steadfast and united" in their bid to oust the new government.

Netanyahu added that the opposition will unite to topple this government at the first opportunity: "I led the opposition in 1995 and again in 2005. We worked hard, together, and in both cases we achieved massive victories."

He stressed that he will enforce "ironclad discipline in the opposition," which has barely any room to maneuver, and that he requests cohesion and attendance from the parties' members at Knesset meetings. "We know, and I can feel in my fingertips, what their weak points are."

Netanyahu also requested that the bloc refrain from infighting. "If we clash with each other, we will not achieve" our objective, he said. "Therefore, I request that you aim your canons outwards and attack if we have the opportunity to do so. If we focus all of our efforts, we can topple them, and we have a good reason to topple them: the good of the country."

He closed his message to the bloc by reiterating that the government is one of "fraud, contradictions and forbidden mixtures. It cannot do a thing for our security, for a healthy economy. We will determine the rules among ourselves, and we will stand by them and go in this way – and redeem the State of Israel and the people of Israel, if God wills it."

Michael Hauser Tov

Instead of ceremony, Bennett and Netanyahu meet for swift handover

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu are meeting in the Prime Minister's Office for a handover, in lieu of a formal inauguration ceremony at Netanyahu's behest.

Netanyahu's office informed Bennett's office on Sunday night that the former prime minister would not hold a formal inauguration ceremony.

In the run-up to Sunday's confidence vote which resulted in the formation of the new government, Netanyahu had vowed a peaceful transfer of power.

Jack Khoury

Palestinians hail 'end of dark chapter' with Netanyahu's ouster, but warn Bennett's government

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh hailed on Monday the end of "a dark chapter in the history of the conflict" with the departure of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Shtayyeh warned, however, that "we do not see the new government as less dangerous than its predecessors," and cited Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's support for Israeli settlements in the West Bank. "The new government must work immediately to end the occupation and grant the Palestinian people their legitimate rights."

Noa Shpigel

Outgoing Minister Litzman: This government must be dismantled

At a handover ceremony for new Housing and Construction Minister Ze'ev Elkin, the previous minister, United Torah Judaism's Ya'akov Litzman, said that Israel's housing crisis is especially hard on the Haredi population, but he does not think that this government will work towards solving it.

"Unfortunately, I don't expect that this government is for everyone," he said. "I personally welcome Elkin as a friend, but this government must be dismantled, and this we will do with all [our] might."

New Yisrael Beiteinu MKs to take office

The Yisrael Beiteinu party invoked the Norwegian Law, according to which ministers can resign from their Knesset seats so that members lower down the list of their party can join parliament.

Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Agricultlural and Negev and Galilee Development Minister Oded Forer and Minister in the Finance Ministry Hamad Amar have resigned from their Knesset seats. In their place, Prof. Yossi Shain, Limor Magen-Telem and Dr. Elina Bardatz are entering the Knesset.

Michael Hauser Tov

Netanyahu nixes handover ceremony for PM Bennett

Opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett are scheduled to hold a transition meeting on Monday afternoon, in lieu of a formal inauguration ceremony, at Netanyahu's behest.

Netanyahu's office informed Bennett's office on Sunday night that the former prime minister would not hold a formal inauguration ceremony.

In the run-up to Sunday's confidence vote which resulted in the formation of the new government, Netanyahu had vowed a peaceful transfer of power.

Michael Hauser Tov

Right-wing opposition parties to meet

At 2:30 P.M., the heads of the parties of the so-called "national camp" – Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism and Religious Zionism – will hold a meeting.

Half an hour later, the rest of the bloc's members will join them and hold a special meeting in the Knesset, led by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who will give a statement to the press.


Iran says Israel's policy will not change with new government - ISNA

Iran does not expect Israeli foreign and security policy to change under its new government, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday, according to ISNA news agency, a day after Israel's parliament ended Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year run as prime minister."

Iran's enemies are gone and powerful Iran is still here. I don't think Israel's policies will change with the new government," Saeed Khatibzadeh said.


Far-right party leader Smotrich: Bennett torpedoed potential right-wing government

In a radio interview Monday morning, far-right Religious Zionism faction head Bezalel Smotrich claimed that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett torpedoed the formation of a right-wing government “reflecting the will of the people.”

Smotrich claimed that since the election in March, he worked around the clock to form a right-wing government and “torpedo the formation of a left-wing government backed by terrorism supporters,” so much so that he did not sit for any media interviews during that time.

According to Smotrich, he and his colleagues had met with Bennett and presented the Yamina head with proof that a right-wing government could be formed, and that after that Bennett worked to sabotage that possibility.

Smotrich claimd that Gideon Sa'ar's New Hope party would have joined such a coalition, but did not answer in the affirmative when asked whether there were concrete draft agreements between Likud and New Hope to that effect. Instead, Smotrich said “there were all sorts of constructions on the line,” and noted that he could not elaborate: “Even when I end up on the other side of the political barricade, I do not reveal what was in closed rooms.”


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."


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