After parties strike a coalition deal in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year tenure ended on Sunday with a “new government” to be led by Naftali Bennett.
The parliament voted in a new government led by Jewish nationalist Naftali Bennett. However, Netanyahu, the most authoritative Israeli politician, vowed he would soon return to power.
A former defence minister and a high-tech millionaire, Bennett, 49, was due to be sworn in shortly after the vote.
His alliance covers for the first time in Israel’s history a party that represents its 21% Arab minority.
Moreover, the United States (US) President Joe Biden swiftly congratulated Bennett.
“I look 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,” he said in a statement.
Israel’s longest-serving leader, Netanyahu was prime minister since 2009, after a first term from 1996 to 1999. But he was weakened by his repeated failure to clinch victory in the polls since 2019 and by an ongoing corruption trial, in which he has refused any wrongdoing.
Under a coalition deal, Bennett will be replaced as prime minister by centrist Yair Lapid in 2023.
Earlier, Netanyahu had sought to discredit the Bennett-Lapid alliance, saying it would endanger Israel’s security.
Lapid had campaigned under a pledge to “return sanity” to Israel, focusing on Netanyahu’s corruption trial on charges which he denies.
“This government will work for all Israel’s citizens, those who voted for it and those who did not. It will respect its opponents and do all it can to unites and connect all parts of Israeli society,” Lapid had said.
According to the international news agency, Netanyahu is accused of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in three separate cases.
Case 1,000: Fraud and breach of trust: he is accused of receiving gifts such as cigars and bottles of champagne from powerful businessmen in exchange for favours
Case 2,000: Fraud and breach of trust: Mr Netanyahu is accused of offering to help improve the circulation of the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot for positive coverage
Case 4,000: Bribery, fraud and breach of trust: Mr Netanyahu is accused of promoting regulatory decisions favourable to the controlling shareholder in the Bezeq telecom giant, Shaul Elovitch, in exchange for positive coverage by Mr Elovitch’s Walla news site
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