Israeli Opposition Swears in New Government, Ousts Netanyahu

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett (left) during a reception in Jerusalem, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a news conference in Tel Aviv. (Ammar Awad/Reuters; Miriam Alster/Pool via Reuters)

Israeli opposition parties were sworn in as a new governing coalition on Sunday, formally ousting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after twelve consecutive years in office.

The new prime minister is Naftali Bennett, a right-wing supporter of West Bank settlements whose party holds just seven seats in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. Yair Lapid, the centrist leader of the largest opposition party, will serve as foreign minister.

The new coalition is formed by parties from across Israel’s political spectrum, including Bennett’s nationalist Yamina party and the left-wing Meretz party. An Arab political party, the conservative Islamist Ra’am, will sit in the governing coalition for the first time in Israel’s history.

Bennett promised that the new government would continue to defend Israel from its enemies, including Iran, while also ending the country’s political paralysis after four elections in the span of two years.

“It is time for responsible leaders from different segments of the nation to stop this madness,” Bennett said in a Knesset speech.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, slammed the incoming government.

“From the moment the U.S. returns to the nuclear deal with Iran, the incoming government won’t approve significant operations in Iran,” Netanyahu said, in comments translated by the Times of Israel. “A government that is not able to forcefully oppose the international community on the pressing issues for our fate is not worthy of leading Israel.”

Netanyahu also accused Bennett defrauding his voters by allying with left-wing parties, and vowed to return to power in the future.

“If we are destined to be in the opposition, we will do it with our heads held high until we bring down this dangerous government,” Netanyahu said.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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