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Israel approves new coalition government, ending Benjamin Netanyahu's long rule

Israel approves new coalition government, ending Benjamin Netanyahu's long rule”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a cabinet meeting of the new government at Chagall State Hall in the Knesset (Israeli parliament) in Jerusalem on May 24, 2020.

As his grip on power slipped, Netanyahu's bombastic remarks drew parallels to former U.S. president Donald Trump, who described his election loss a year ago as the result of a rigged vote. Gaza's rulers Hamas said that the political developments in Jerusalem wouldn't change its relationship with Israel. In his speech before the Knesset confidence vote, Bennett celebrated the diversity and warned of polarization within the country.

As he addressed the raucous debate, he was repeatedly heckled and shouted down by Mr Netanyahu's supporters accusing him of betrayal.

"Renewal of the nuclear agreement with Iran is a mistake, an error that would again grant legitimisation to one of the darkest and violent regimes in the world", Bennett said.

"Israel will not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons".

Thanking Biden for his "years of commitment to Israel's security", and for "standing by Israel" during fighting with Hamas militants in Gaza last month, Bennett said his government would pursue good relations with U.S. Democrats and Republicans.

Mr Netanyahu, speaking after him, vowed to return to power.

He argued that a government including Lapid and left-wing partners would cower before worldwide pressure to revive the Iran deal, which Netanyahu characterizes as a path for the Islamic Republic to threaten Israel with nuclear weapons.

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Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, said the new government will likely be more stable than it appears. Each party in the coalition will want to prove that it can deliver, and for that they need "time and achievements".

"We are at the start of new days", he says, calling the establishment of a new government "a wonder".

Bennett, a 49-year-old millionaire and former technology executive who heads the small Yamina party, teamed up with Lapid after elections in March produced the fourth stalemate in two years.

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

That looked likely regarding Israel's top security concern, Iran.

Netanyahu has condemned the incitement while noting that he has also been a target. And no one is ruling out a Netanyahu comeback.

The premier's opponents have accused him and his allies of stoking tensions to cling onto power in a "scorched-earth" campaign. He has also cultivated ties with Arab and African countries that long shunned Israel over its policies toward the Palestinians.

But to his critics, he has become a polarising and autocratic leader who used divide-and-rule tactics to aggravate the many rifts in Israeli society. He refused calls to step down, instead lashing out at the media, judiciary and law enforcement, going so far as to accuse his political opponents of orchestrating an attempted coup. Heading into opposition, Netanyahu, 71, the most dominant Israeli politician of his generation, pledged he would soon return to power.



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