Netanyahu Nixes Handover Ceremony for PM Bennett

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Opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset on Sunday
Opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset on SundayCredit: Emil Salman

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.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Knesset on SundayCredit: Emil Salman

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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.

Israel's 36th government, which was sworn in on Sunday night, is scheduled to convene for a traditional photograph at the President's Residence Monday morning at 11 A.M.

Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert shakes hands with his successor Benjamin Netanyahu during a handover ceremony in 2009 Credit: Daniel Bar-On
Montage of previous inauguration ceremoniesCredit:

Israel, unlike many countries, lacks a detailed protocol for the transfer of power, but the Basic Law on the Government explicitly states that “the government shall be established once the Knesset has expressed confidence in it, and the ministers shall thereupon assume office.”

Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (L) is hugged by his successor Ariel Sharon during a handover ceremony at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem in March 2001.Credit: Reinhard Krause / Reuters

According to this law, Bennett automatically became prime minister after Sunday evening's Knesset vote of confidence and being sworn in. Sources close to Netanyahu said he was expected to hold the inauguration ceremony in the run-up to the Knesset vote, but his office informed Bennett's bureau that he would not be holding it on Sunday night.

There are also no protocols governing the transfer of information from outgoing to incoming governments. In 1999, Ehud Barak beat the incumbent Netanyahu in a general election that included the direct election of the prime minister. Although the election was held in May, Barak became premier only in July, and only a few transition meetings were held between the men and between their teams. The director general of the Prime Minister’s Office, Moshe Leon, ordered department heads to compile summaries of their activities and submit them to Barak’s aides. No such measures are expected now.

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