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Lapid: It was an honor to serve the country; we’ll be back sooner than you think

PM touts achievements under his and Bennett’s premierships, in both the domestic and international spheres

Prime Minister Yair Lapid heads a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on November 20, 2022. (Menahem KAHANA / POOL / AFP)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid heads a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on November 20, 2022. (Menahem KAHANA / POOL / AFP)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid addressed the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, touting his coalition’s achievements and saying that it had been an honor to serve the country.

“This is the last meeting of the 36th government of the State of Israel. It was a government that knew quite a bit of political turmoil, but most of all, it is a government that worked hard for the State of Israel and for the citizens of Israel,” Lapid said.

“During its short tenure, this government passed 1,613 decisions, which covered all areas of life, and all were for the benefit of the citizens of Israel. We did not act only on behalf of those who elected us,” he added.

“The Israeli government has a clear role: to protect the state, uphold the law, uphold the separation of powers, protect security and the economy, protect Israel’s position in the world, protect Israel’s democracy,” according to Lapid. “We met all these tasks with considerable success.”

“Ministers, I was honored to serve this country and its citizens together with you. We’ll be back in this room, sooner than you think,” Lapid said.

The premier listed some of the achievements of his and former prime minister Naftali Bennett’s tenures, including the passing of a state budget for the first time in three years, a smaller deficit and lower unemployment, and an increase in soldiers’ salaries.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid leads a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, November 20, 2022 (Haim Zach/GPO)

Lapid also said a “heavy blow” had been inflicted on Islamic Jihad in Gaza in an operation earlier this year that killed some of the terror group’s leaders without any Israeli injuries. He said that hundreds of terror attacks emanating from the West Bank had also been prevented.

Lapid claimed that his government had “prevented the renewal of the nuclear agreement with Iran,” and noted that Israel had carried out a number of operations abroad to target Iran’s “terrorist infrastructure.”

The prime minister also noted that a number of embassies and missions had been opened in the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Bahrain, and that relations have been renewed with Turkey, Jordan and Egypt.

Lapid also touted the “historic agreement” signed with Lebanon to designate a maritime border.

On a domestic level, Lapid said that work was underway to fight crime in Arab communities, working conditions for teachers had been improved and stipends raised for Holocaust survivors.

He also said that the government had established two state commissions of inquiry: into the Mount Meron disaster, in which 45 people were killed and over 150 injured in a crush, and into the submarine and naval vessel purchases that occurred under the government of former, and presumptive future, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and President Isaac Herzog at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, November 13, 2022 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

In June 2021, Lapid built an unlikely coalition from across the political spectrum that ended the most recent period of Netanyahu’s rule. But multiple defections from parties ultimately rendered it unable to govern and elections were called, Israel’s fifth since 2019.

Netanyahu’s right-wing religious bloc won 64 seats in the November 1 election, and he officially received a mandate to form a government last Sunday.

He was given 28 days to assemble a majority coalition, but if he needs more time, he could seek a 14-day extension from President Isaac Herzog.

However, coalition negotiations have ground to a halt in recent days amid Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich’s demand that he be handed the Defense Ministry.

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