Netanyahu's Long Tenure Officially Over in Israel

Eloise Marshall
June 14, 2021

"Thank you Benjamin Netanyahu for your lengthy and achievement-filled service on behalf of the State of Israel", Bennett said, pledging to be prime minister for "all Israelis".

Mr Bennett, a millionaire former high-tech entrepreneur, faces a tough test maintaining an unwieldy coalition of parties from the political right, left and centre.

Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, said ahead of Sunday's session that the political developments wouldn't change its relationship with Israel.

Netanyahu, 71, in typically combative style, vowed shortly before his defeat that "if it's our destiny to be in the opposition, we'll do so with our heads high until we take down this bad government and return to lead the country our way". If just one faction bolts, it could lose its majority and would be at risk of collapse, giving him an opening to return to power. As he addressed the raucous debate, he was repeatedly heckled and shouted down by Netanyahu's supporters accusing him of betrayal.

In a speech to the Knesset, Bennett outlined several points.

Bennett doesn't have the global standing, credibility or capability to "truly object" to the nuclear deal with Iran, Netanyahu said.

Bennett nevertheless thanked President Joe Biden and the US for its decades of support for Israel.

Being ousted from the top job leaves Netanyahu more exposed to his legal troubles, denying him the chance to push through legislation that could give him immunity. He predicted the incoming government would be weak on Iran and give in to U.S. demands to make concessions to the Palestinians.

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"If it is destined for us to be in the opposition, we will do it with our backs straight until we topple this unsafe government and return to lead the country in our way", he said.

Israelis celebrate the swearing in of the new government in Tel Aviv, Israel. Each party in the coalition will want to prove that it can deliver, and for that they need "time and achievements".

Minutes later, Bennett was sworn into office, followed by members of the new cabinet. He accused Bennett of being weak and untrustworthy (noting that he'd broken a campaign pledge by forming a government with Lapid), and said his protege-turned-rival would refuse to stand up to Biden on Iran. "People justifiably believe that they have been tricked", Netanyahu said earlier in the week.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, March. And no one is ruling out a Netanyahu comeback.

His opponent, Benjamin Netanyahu, however, questioned Bennett's ability to stand up to pressure from the USA on the matter of restoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, also known as the Iran nuclear deal). Mr. Netanyahu has grown more aligned with Republicans and was embraced by Donald J. Trump, the former president.

The United States also moved its embassy to Jerusalem and helped Israel secure historic normalisation treaties with Arab states, including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

His reputation as a political magician has also faded at home, where he has become a deeply polarizing figure.

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