Israel's most hardline government yet

Knesset to swear in Israel’s 37th government as Netanyahu returns to power

Incoming PM and Lapid to deliver speeches in the plenum; ballot to be held over new speaker Ohana, followed by confidence vote on incoming government and its swearing-in

Likud leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset on December 19, 2022 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Likud leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset on December 19, 2022 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Almost two months after the country went to the polls, Israel’s 37th government was set to be sworn in on Thursday, capping a return to power for Benjamin Netanyahu as the head of the country’s most hardline government to date.

The day’s parliamentary proceedings will begin with a speech in the Knesset from Netanyahu, followed by one from incoming opposition leader Yair Lapid.

Netanyahu will outline his government’s agenda, which was published Wednesday highlighting the priorities of his far-right and ultra-Orthodox coalition partners.

Each faction will then be given a 15-minute spot that can be used by one person to deliver a speech or split between members of the party.

A vote will be held on Likud MK Amir Ohana’s appointment as Knesset speaker. That formality completed, a vote of confidence will held on the incoming government, after which it will be sworn in.

Netanyahu will reportedly forgo the traditional ceremony of handing over the premiership with Lapid, and will only take part in a transition briefing with the outgoing premier.

Netanyahu had refused to participate in the ceremony when Naftali Bennett took over Israel’s premiership from him in June 2021 and only held a brief, 30-minute transition meeting with his successor. That sit-down ended without the traditional public good wishes, handshake, and photo op.

Likud’s Amir Ohana in Jerusalem, November 1, 2022 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Thursday’s proceedings come at the conclusion of weeks of negotiations between Netanyahu’s Likud and his far-right and Haredi coalition partners, which required a number of contentious pieces of legislation to be voted in before the agreements were signed.

Netanyahu has largely brushed off concerns over his incoming government, vowing not to harm LGBTQ and other minority rights despite the signing of coalition agreements that state otherwise and the inclusion of an anti-LGBTQ party in the government that will have control over some educational programming in schools.

Likud leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu with Otzma Yehudit party chief MK Itamar Ben Gvir at the Knesset on December 28, 2022 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Coalition agreements also include a commitment to pass a controversial High Court override law designed to reduce judicial checks on executive and legislative power, and a declarative, if somewhat vague, commitment to annex the West Bank to Israel.

In addition, the far-right Otzma Yehudit party has secured an agreement to slice off the Border Police from the Israel Police and place the force under the direct control of the new national security minister, MK Itamar Ben Gvir.

Deals will also see far-reaching policy changes on religion and state, including enabling gender-segregated public events, restricting eligibility for Jewish immigration to Israel under the Law of Return, and increased funding for social welfare and religious education.

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