Published: Mon, June 14, 2021
Science | By

Netanyahu ousted following Knesset vote

Netanyahu ousted following Knesset vote

If the coalition does not lose votes due to defectors on 13 June, Naftali Bennett will assume the role of prime minister and Netanyahu will move into opposition after 12 consecutive years in power.

Israel has held four inconclusive elections in two years and has gone much of that time without a state budget, fueling disgust among voters with the nation's politics.

Netanyahu's bombastic remarks as he saw his grip on power slip drew parallels at home and overseas to former United States president Donald Trump, who described his election loss previous year as the result of a rigged vote.

Netanyahu, the most dominant Israeli politician of his generation, had failed to form a government after a March 23 election, the fourth in two years. Thereafter, he will hand over leadership responsibilities to Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid.

Netanyahu loyalists, shouting "shame" and "liar", frequently interrupted the man set to replace him, nationalist Naftali Bennett, as he spelled out the new coalition's policies. In his speech before the Knesset confidence vote, Bennett celebrated the diversity and warned of polarization within the country.

The new government is expected to win a narrow majority in the 120-member assembly, after which it will be sworn in.

His government, including for the first time a party that represents Israel's 21% Arab minority, plans largely to avoid sweeping moves on hot-button worldwide issues such as policy toward the Palestinians, and to focus on domestic reforms.

Recent days have seen police crackdowns on Palestinian protests over the threatened eviction of families from homes in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem to make way for Israeli settlers, a month after similar clashes fuelled the latest Gaza war.

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

In a similarly worded statement, Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken said the United States remains "unwavering in our commitment to Israel's security".

He also added that Israel will not allow Iran to be equipped with nuclear weapons: "Israel is not party to the agreement, and will maintain full freedom to act".

At the same time, Bennett thanked President Joe Biden and the USA for the support they have been providing to Israel, even though the Democrat POTUS is now in talks with Iran on returning to the nuclear accord.

"This is a sad morning, because of the theft of votes and the fact Israel is getting a government based on one thing - a lie", Ofir Akunis, an outgoing minister from Netanyahu's Likud party, told Army Radio. His ongoing corruption trial - on charges he denies - has only deepened the rift. 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.

That looked likely regarding Israel's top security concern, Iran. It was decided the leadership role would be shared between two separate party leaders.

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