By Harinder Mishra :
NAFTALI Bennett was on Sunday sworn in as Israel’s new Prime Minister, ending Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year hold on power and the political uncertainty that gripped the Jewish nation for months after inconclusive elections. Bennett, the 49-year-old leader of the Right-wing Yamina party, took oath of office after the Knesset (Parliament) elected him as the 13th Prime Minister of Israel by approved with a razor-thin majority of 60-59 in the 120-member House. One lawmaker abstained.
His Government has 27 Ministers, nine of them women. The new Government - an unprecedented coalition of ideologically divergent political parties drawn from the Right, the Left and the Centre, along with an Arab party - has a razor-thin majority in a 120-member House. Mickey Levy of Yesh Atid party was elected as the speaker of Parliament with the support of 67 lawmakers. Earlier, Bennett presented his new Government’s Ministers in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) in a speech constantly interrupted by supporters of 71-year-old Netanyahu. Amid incessant heckling from rival bloc’s lawmakers, Bennett said that he is proud “of the ability to sit with people of different opinions”. “At the decisive moment we took responsibility,” he said. “The alternative to this Government was more elections, more hate, which would have broken up the country.” “It is time for responsible leaders from different parts of the nation to stop this madness,” he asserted. Agitated Likud, ultra-orthodox and ultra-nationalist lawmakers constantly jeered at Bennett during his speech calling him “a criminal” and a “liar”.
In his speech, Bennett also said that Israel “will not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons.” “Israel will not be a party to the agreement and will continue to preserve full freedom of action,” he said, opposing the US efforts to revive Iran’s nuclear deal. US President Joe Biden congratulated Prime Minister Bennett and said he is looking forward to working with him. “On behalf of the American people, I congratulate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and all the members of the new Israeli cabinet. I look forward to working with Prime Minister Bennett to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations,” Biden was quoted as saying by The Times of Israel.