Israel coalition set to end Netanyahu era

Israel coalition set to end Netanyahu era

After four elections in two years, Bennett's incoming government breaks a long political deadlock and ushers in the most diverse coalition Israel has ever seen, including the first Arab party to serve in the government.

They finally succeeded after the fourth election, in March 2021, when party leaders from across the political spectrum put aside their differences and agreed to form a unity government.

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

He will then hand power over to Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid, for a further two years.

"When PM Netanyahu speaks about "election fraud" he isn't referring to the vote counting process in Israel in which he has complete confidence".

Minutes later, Bennett was sworn into office, followed by members of the new cabinet.

But he suffered few if any consequences from those clashes and was richly rewarded by the Trump administration, which recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital, helped broker normalization agreements with four Arab states and withdrew the US from the Iran deal.

During the debate in the Knesset (parliament), a defiant Mr Netanyahu promised: "We'll be back". Biden predecessor Donald Trump left the deal, but Biden wants to return to it. He said that renewing the nuclear deal with Iran is a mistake that will "once again lend legitimacy to one of the most discriminatory and violent regimes in the world". "Israel will not be a party to the agreement and will continue to preserve full freedom of action".

Bennett, whose parents immigrated to Israel from the United States, is expected to stress the need for close relations with the U.S.

"The government will make an effort to deepen and enhance our relations with both parties - bipartisan", Bennett said.

But Bennett, who shares Netanyahu's hardline ideology, is also expected to echo the outgoing prime minister's opposition to restoring the worldwide nuclear deal with Iran. Serving in his first term as prime minister in the 1990s and since 2009 winning four more terms in succession, he has been a polarising figure, both overseas and at home.

Beloved as "King Bibi" by his right-wing supporters and condemned as the "crime minister" by his critics, the hawkish and combative Netanyahu has always been the dominant, and increasingly divisive, figure in Israeli politics.

Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, remains the head of the largest party in parliament and is expected to vigorously oppose the new government.

His opponents have long reviled what they see as Netanyahu's divisive rhetoric, underhanded political tactics and subjection of state interests to his own political survival. Bennett has said another election - a likely outcome if no government were formed - would have been a disaster for Israel. Some have dubbed him "Crime Minister" and have accused him of mishandling the coronavirus crisis and its economic fallout. "Each was right, yet with all their being right, they burnt the house down on top of us", Bennett said.

They drew some cheers and applause during the session amid non-stop heckling from their opponents.

The new Bennett coalition would face considerable diplomatic, security and financial challenges.

Bennett listed as priorities reforms in education, health, cutting red tape to grow businesses and lower housing costs.

Finding agreement on diplomatic and security policy will be hard since the coalition houses factions that are secular and religious, hawkish and dovish, and includes an Arab party for the first time in Israeli history.

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