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World reacts as Bennett, Lapid form new government, oust Netanyahu after 12 yrs

Biden calls new PM Bennett, 2 hours after Yamina leader unseated Netanyahu in narrow 60-59 vote * Gantz, Lapid also speaks to US counterpart

  • Israel's outgoing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with his successor, incoming Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, after a special session to vote on a new government at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on June 13, 2021. (Emmanuel Dunand / AFP)
    Israel's outgoing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with his successor, incoming Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, after a special session to vote on a new government at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on June 13, 2021. (Emmanuel Dunand / AFP)
  • Newly elected Prime Minister Naftali Bennett waves, with Yair Lapid (left) and Gideon Sa'ar (right) alongside him, after their new coalition wins Knesset approval, June 13, 2021 (Haim Zach / GPO)
    Newly elected Prime Minister Naftali Bennett waves, with Yair Lapid (left) and Gideon Sa'ar (right) alongside him, after their new coalition wins Knesset approval, June 13, 2021 (Haim Zach / GPO)
  • Israeli demonstrators celebrate the new government in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on June 13, 2021.  (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    Israeli demonstrators celebrate the new government in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on June 13, 2021. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • Religious Zionism head Bezalel Smotrich heckles Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennettat the plenum, June 13, 2021 (Noam Moskowitz/Knesset)
    Religious Zionism head Bezalel Smotrich heckles Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennettat the plenum, June 13, 2021 (Noam Moskowitz/Knesset)
  • Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) talks with Mansour Abbas, head of the Islamic Ra'am Party, during a special session to vote on the new government at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on June 13, 2021. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP)
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) talks with Mansour Abbas, head of the Islamic Ra'am Party, during a special session to vote on the new government at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on June 13, 2021. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP)
  • Prime minister-designate Naftali Bennett addresses the Knesset, June 13, 2021 (Noam Moskowitz/Knesset)
    Prime minister-designate Naftali Bennett addresses the Knesset, June 13, 2021 (Noam Moskowitz/Knesset)
  • Israeli demonstrators celebrate Netanyahu's fall from power in Tel Aviv on June 13, 2021. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    Israeli demonstrators celebrate Netanyahu's fall from power in Tel Aviv on June 13, 2021. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett in the Knesset, June 13, 2021 (Noam Moscowitz / Knesset spokesperson's office)
    Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett in the Knesset, June 13, 2021 (Noam Moscowitz / Knesset spokesperson's office)
  • Defense Minister Benny Gantz and outgoing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen at the Knesset plenum, June 13, 2021 (Noam Moskowitz/Knesset)
    Defense Minister Benny Gantz and outgoing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen at the Knesset plenum, June 13, 2021 (Noam Moskowitz/Knesset)
  • Outgoing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a Knesset session in Jerusalem on June 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schali22
    Outgoing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a Knesset session in Jerusalem on June 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schali22
  • Head of the Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid arrives for a meeting with heads of the prospective unity government at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on June 13, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
    Head of the Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid arrives for a meeting with heads of the prospective unity government at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on June 13, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they happen, with the Knesset voting in Israel’s 36th Government.

Israel prepares to vote in first government in 12 years not led by Netanyahu

A momentous morning for Israel, as the country is set to swear in its first government in 12 years not led by Benjamin Netanyahu.

A quick rundown of the day’s planned events:

2 p.m. — Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett will meet with the leaders of the “change bloc” coalition parties. The meeting will take place in the Yamina party’s faction room in the Knesset and will be closed to the press.

3 p.m. — The parties slated to enter the coalition will meet individually.

4 p.m. — The Knesset convenes. Bennett and partner Yair Lapid will present the government and its guiding principles. Netanyahu, the prospective leader of the opposition, is also expected to speak. All party representatives will have an opportunity to speak. Parliament will then vote on the new government.

Following the session, members of the newly installed government will head to the President’s Residence for the traditional group photograph of ministers with outgoing President Reuven Rivlin, who will end his seven-year term on July 9.

8:30 p.m. — A celebratory meeting, closed to the press, will be held in the Knesset’s Chagall Hall.

9 p.m. — A celebratory inaugural cabinet meeting will be held in the Knesset’s Jerusalem hall at 9 p.m., and will be open to the press.

Disgruntled Yisrael Beytenu MK announces break from faction

For anyone who’s missed it, the day of the new government’s planned inaugurations had already begun with a bit of drama, as a disgruntled Yisrael Beytenu MK, Eli Avidar, unhappy with the post he was offered in the coalition, announces he will no longer be bound to the party after the coalition is installed.

However, he stresses that he will vote to approve the new government.

With the coalition expected to have a razor-thin majority in parliament of 61-59, actions such as Avidar’s are certain to worry the leaders of the change bloc.

Yisrael Beytenu MK Eli Avidar in the Knesset on April 29, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Hours before leaving job, regional cooperation minister Akunis says office unnecessary

The Regional Cooperation Ministry is an entirely unnecessary one that “should have been closed long ago,” according to Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis.

Hours before he is set to leave the job he’s held since mid-2020, Akunis notes in conversation with Army Radio that the ministry was formed in 1999 as compensation for Shimon Peres by then-prime minister Ehud Barak, after the former did not receive the position of foreign minister.

Likud Minister Ofir Akunis in Jerusalem on May 28, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“I would have expected a so-called change government not to establish or maintain offices they believe should be closed,” he adds.

Asked why he served as head of a ministry he believed should not exist, Akunis says he voiced his position “in internal forums.”

The position is slated to be held by Issawi Frej (Meretz) in the government slated to be sworn in today.

Netanyahu tweets quote of Lubavitcher Rebbe: ‘God is on this side’

Benjamin Netanyahu tweets a message to his rivals this morning.

Noting that today is the Hebrew anniversary of the death of Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Netanyahu writes, “I am reminded of comments made to me by the rabbi of Lubavitch: ‘You will need to fight with 119 people, but you will certainly not be impressed by this as God is on this side. A blessing and success [to you]. God will give a blessing and success.'”

Incoming Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweets simply: “A morning of change.”

Britney Spears shares her Kabbalist Hebrew tattoo

Singer Britney Spears has shared a photo of a Hebrew tattoo on the back of her neck, which she calls her “favorite.”

The tattoo is of the letters Mem, He, Shin, which Spears says “means healing.”

Indeed it does, according to the Kabbalah. On KabbalahInsights.com, the letter combination is described as “a powerful amulet that will help generate good health, neutralize all sorts of illness, cure the body and soul, protect from pain, chronic fatigue and malfunction, induce cleansing and strengthen mental health.”

Joint List MK: Abbas is joining a government opposed to everything he believed in

Joint List MK Sami Abu Shehadeh attacks Ra’am party leader Mansour Abbas for joining the new government, telling Ynet he will be helping to “deepen the occupation.”

“If someone wants to make Jerusalem or the Galilee Jewish it’s the same policy. Whether an Arab or a Jew does it is irrelevant.”

He says Abbas “has knowingly joined a government whose basic principles are opposed to everything he long believed in.”

Joint List MK Sami Abou Shehadeh (Screen capture: YouTube)

Ra’am MK said threatening not to vote in favor of new government

More drama from the Knesset: There are media reports that Ra’am MK Said al-Harumi is threatening not to vote in favor of the new government.

With the prospective coalition enjoying only a 61-seat majority in the 120-seat Knesset, every vote is crucial today.

Al-Harumi is reportedly citing planned demolitions of illegal Arab structures in the Negev on Wednesday. He is unhappy with the coalition deal’s plans for handling illegal Negev construction and wants a freeze on all demolitions, Channel 12 reports.

According to Kan news, Ra’am chief Mansour Abbas responds that “it will be alright.”

Likud has identified him as a weak link in Ra’am and is putting pressure on him to oppose the new government, according to Ynet, and has offered him various benefits if he does not vote in favor.

Joint List lawmaker Said al-Harumi. (courtesy)

Meanwhile, MK Emilie Moatti of Labor is hospitalized to undergo a spinal tap, but will arrive for the vote while under treatment.

Bennett tweets photo of prayer with tefillin, quotes from priestly blessing

Meanwhile, Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett tweets a photo of himself praying with tefillin ahead of his expected swearing-in as prime minister. We assume the photo is from today.

He quotes from the priestly benediction: “May God bless thee, and keep thee; may God make His face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; may God lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”

Incoming regional cooperation minister says no point in meeting predecessor

Meretz MK Issawi Frej, the incoming regional cooperation minister, says he has no need to meet with outgoing minister Ofir Akunis for an orderly transfer of responsibilities after the latter said today the ministry is unnecessary.

“I understand Akunis suddenly remembered today that that Regional Cooperation Ministry, which he led until today, is actually superfluous,” Frej tweets.

“If so, it seems it will also be unnecessary for us to meet, as there is no point in a handover with a person who says his job was unnecessary.”

Meretz MK Issawi Frej attends a Economic committee meeting at the Knesset on July 12, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Two candidates for incoming PM’s military secretary named

Sources familiar with the nomination process tell the Times of Israel that two army brigadier generals are candidates to be the prime minister’s military secretary in the new government.

One is Brig. Gen. Avi Gil, currently the head of the Training Division in the Operations Division and prior to that commander of 340th Idan Armored Division and 36th Armored Division.

The second is Brig. Gen. Shlomi Binder, the current commander of the 91st Galilee Division and a former commander of the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit.

Religious Zionism’s Ben Gvir hurt in car crash, refuses to go to hospital

Religious Zionism’s far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir has been lightly injured in a car crash in the north.

Ben Gvir refuses to be taken to a hospital, as he does not wish to miss today’s Knesset vote on the new government — a vote in which he plans to cast an emphatic “no.”

Itamar Ben Gvir of the far-right Otzma Yehudit faction speaks at the Religious Zionism party headquarters in Modi’in, on elections night, March 23, 2021. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)

Ra’am faction to convene at 1 p.m. over MK’s threat not to vote for government

The Ra’am faction will convene at 1 p.m. to discuss Said al-Harumi’s threat not to vote for the new government.

Channel 12 reports that sources in the party have told Bennett the situation is “under control.”

Bennett’s office: He’ll thank US in address, speak out against Iran deal return

Bennett’s office says his message to the US during his planned address to the Knesset today will be “positive and one of cooperation.”

He will thank US President Joe Biden for his support of Israel during the recent Gaza operation.

However, Bennett, like Netanyahu before him, will voice staunch opposition to a return to the Iran nuclear deal.

Yamina leader and Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett speaks at the Knesset, June 6, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

Israeli gymnast wins gold at European Championships, alongside 3 more medals

Israeli rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram scores a slew of medals within a few hours, winning a gold, two silvers, and a bronze at the European Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics held in Varna, Bulgaria.

Linoy takes the gold in the clubs exercise with a top score of 28.500 points, wins silvers in the ball and hoop exercises — and a bronze alongside the rest of the Israeli team in the overall group competition.

In the ribbon exercise, Linoy finished fourth.

The Israeli team is to compete later in the day in group events with two routines, one with balls and another with both hoops and clubs.

Linoy Ashram of Israel performs with the ribbon during the 36th European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

UTJ head says in retrospect, maybe Likud should’ve replaced Netanyahu

United Torah Judaism party chief Moshe Gafni tells Kan Bet Radio that Benjamin Netanyahu stepping aside to let a different Likud candidate form a government “may have been the right thing to do.”

But he adds that he could not demand of “a party with 30 seats” to switch out its chosen leader and vows to remain loyal to Likud’s path, even if that means staying in the opposition.

“Likud decided what it decided,” he says.

United Torah Judaism party leader Moshe Gafni after a faction meeting at the Knesset on April 26, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Ra’am’s Said al-Harumi says ‘There will be a government today’

After reports he may not back the government at today’s Knesset vote, Ra’am’s Said al-Harumi tells Channel 12 news: “There will be a government today.”

He does not, however, answer how he will vote at the plenum.

He denies reports there has been pressure on him from Likud to vote against the new coalition.

Bennett to tell Haredim government committed to them

According to Channel 12 news, Bennett will appeal to the Haredi public tonight in his speech, and tell them the government is committed to them despite the fact that their leaders have decided to remain outside the coalition.

He will speak of plans to aid Haredim on issues of employment and housing.

Heads of ‘change bloc’ coalition about to start meeting at Knesset

The heads of the eight parties making up the new coalition are set to start their meeting now, at 2 p.m., ahead of the Knesset session to vote on the new government at 4 p.m.

Yair Lapid, Mansour Abbas both assure press coalition will be okayed

Both Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid and Ra’am’s Mansour Abbas tell television reporters that “there will be a government” as they enter the meeting of coalition party leaders.

Homes in Jerusalem suburb Mevaseret Zion evacuated due to nearby fire

Some homes in the Jerusalem suburb of Mevasseret Zion are being evacuated due to a nearby fire.

Firefighting teams are working to douse the blaze.

Bennett to speak of ‘sacred obligation’ to bring back Israelis held by Hamas

In his speech later, Bennett is also expected to speak of Israelis held by Hamas in Gaza. Hamas holds two Israeli civilians captive — Hisham al-Sayed and Avera Mengistu — as well as the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.

He will voice a commitment to bringing the four back, and say he sees their return as “a sacred obligation.”

Fire near Mevaseret closes Route 1; speculation it could delay Knesset vote

The fire near Mevaseret Zion has now caused the closure of Route 1 from Mevaseret eastward to Jerusalem.

In the media there is speculation that the blockage could delay the government’s swearing-in, if MKs are prevented from reaching the capital.

Haredi lawmakers could stage walkout during vote on coalition — report

Haredi lawmakers intend to make the new government’s swearing-in a stormy one, Channel 12 reports.

MKs are considering staging a walkout during the vote and/or heckling speakers from the prospective coalition as they seek to paint the government as illegitimate over what they claim are its plans to change the religious status quo in the country.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri gives a press statement at the Knesset in Jerusalem, June 8, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Police extract 3 MKs stuck on Route 1 to bring them to Knesset — TV

Channel 12’s Amit Segal reports that three MKs — Yesh Atid’s Meirav Ben-Ari, Meretz’s Issawi Frej and Likud’s Keren Barak — were extracted from traffic by police on Route 1 to bring them to the Knesset for today’s vote.

Route 1 has been closed off due to a fire near the highway.

Bennett and Shaked go over his speech

Channel 12’s Daphna Liel shares a photo of Naftali Bennett and close ally Ayelet Shaked as they go over his speech for today, shortly before the plenum gathers to confirm the new government.

Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked go over his speech shortly before the plenum gathers to confirm the new government. June 13, 2021 (Courtesy)

Knesset begins special session to confirm new Bennett-Lapid government

The Knesset plenum is now convened to confirm the formation of the new “change government” led by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid.

The session can be watched live, in Hebrew, here.

Bennett heckled repeatedly by rightist MKs as he attempts to begin his speech

Naftali Bennett is heckled repeatedly by members of the right as he attempts to begin his speech at the plenum.

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin repeatedly attempts to silence hecklers and orders several lawmakers removed from the plenum.

Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett addresses the Knesset, June 13, 2021 (screenshot)

Bennett thanks Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu as hecklers shout him down

Bennett thanks Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu. “You both sacrificed a great deal for the State of Israel.”

He can barely manage a few sentences at a time before Likud MKs shout him down.

Photo of Smotrich shouting in the plenum

Here is a photo of Religious Zionism head Bezalel Smotrich screaming in the plenum before being ousted.

Religious Zionism head Bezalel Smotrich heckles Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett at the plenum, June 13, 2021 (Noam Moskowitz/Knesset)

Bennett booms over hecklers: Time to stop this madness

Likud and Haredi MKs continue to shout at Bennett that he is “a criminal” and a “liar” as Bennett raises his voice to talk over them.

He says the MKs are providing proof for the urgent need to bring back decency and unity to Israeli politics.

“I am proud of the ability to sit with people with very different opinions,” he booms. “At the decisive moment we took responsibility.”

The alternative to this government was more elections, more hate, which would have broken up the country, he says.

“It is time for responsible leaders from different parts of the nation to stop this madness,” he says.

Bennett: Divide has led us to a storm of hatred

Reacting to the ongoing shouting in parliament, Bennett says: “We are facing an internal challenge, a divide in the people that is being seen at these very moments.”

That divide “has led us to a storm of hatred and a clash of brothers, to the country being paralyzed.”

He speaks of various social and regulatory reforms his government plans to enact, on legal, social and religious matters.

Bennett thanks Netanyahu for opening door to Ra’am, hails new chapter in ties with Arabs

“We will open a new chapter in relations with Arab citizens,” Bennett says.

He says he “must give Prime Minister Netanyahu credit” for “paving the road” to cooperation with Mansour Abbas and Ra’am, as Likud MKs shout their protest. This is ostensibly said earnestly but there is little doubt that it is meant as a jibe. Netanyahu attempted to get Ra’am to back his own government, not Bennett’s.

“We understand the difficulties and needs of the Arab public,” he says, vowing to improve education, security and housing for Arabs.

Bennett: Renewing nuclear deal a mistake, we maintain full freedom to act

On Iran, Bennett says the Iranian nuclear program “is approaching a critical point.”

“Israel will not allow Iran to attain nuclear weapons. Israel is not a party to the [international nuclear] deal and will maintain full freedom to act.”

In a message to Washington, he adds: “Renewing the nuclear deal is a mistake.”

Prime minister-designate Naftali Bennett addresses the Knesset, June 13, 2021 (Noam Moskowitz/Knesset)

Bennett: Will care for Haredim, state commission will probe Meron disaster

The prime minister-designate promises that Haredim have nothing to fear from his government. He says it will respect Torah studies and work to ease their problems.

“A state commission of inquiry into the Meron disaster will be formed,” he says.

“We’ve come to work for everybody,” he says. “We will look over the Torah that looked over us in the Diaspora.”

He says his government will seek to remove blockages that prevented Haredim from integrating in the public.

Lapid forgoes speech, says hecklers causing shame to democracy

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid forgoes his prepared speech to the Knesset, instead reprimanding right-wing opposition to the new government for the nonstop heckling of Bennett.

“I’m skipping the speech I planned to deliver today because I’m here to say one thing – to ask for forgiveness from my mother,” he says at the podium. “My mother is 86 years old and we don’t ask her to come to Jerusalem lightly. But we did it because I assumed that you would be able to get over yourselves and behave with statesmanship at this moment, and she would see a smooth transition of government,” he says to the rowdy plenum.

Yair Lapid addresses the Knesset, June 13, 2021 (video screenshot)

“When she was born, there was no State of Israel, Tel Aviv was a small town of 30,000 people and we didn’t have a parliament. I wanted her to be proud of the democratic process in Israel. Instead she, along with every citizen of Israel, is ashamed of you and remembers clearly why it’s time to replace you. Thank you.”

Addressing Knesset, Netanyahu says he’s honored to work for his beloved country

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu begins his speech in the Knesset.

“I stand here on behalf of the million Israelis… who voted for Likud under my leadership, and the other million Israelis who voted for right-wing parties with the knowledge they would join a government headed by me. In their honor, and on their behalf, I intend to continue the mission of my life: to ensure the security and flourishing of the State of Israel,” says Netanyahu.

Netanyahu recaps his achievements, from ensuring Israel becomes the first vaccinated country, to opposing Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, to the Abraham Accords, to the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

“It was my honor to work night and day for our beloved country,” says Netanyahu.

Unlike Bennett’s speech, Netanyahu’s comments are met mostly with silence in the plenum.

Netanyahu: We will bring down this dangerous government from the opposition

Netanyahu also notes Israel’s relative security under his leadership, calling it “the best decade for security we’ve ever had.”

“This didn’t happen by chance. This came because we set a different security policy… which exacted a very high price from our enemies, while avoiding recklessness and impulsivity,” says Netanyahu.

“If we are destined to be in the opposition, we will do it with our heads held high until we bring down this dangerous government,” he says.

Netanyahu: Bennett doesn’t have the credibility, global standing to stop Iran

Netanyahu mocks Bennett’s pledges to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, saying the Yamina leader has shown he doesn’t keep his promises. Bennett will “fight Iran like he won’t sit” in a government with Lapid and other left-wing parties, says Netanyahu.

The prime minister says the new US administration asked him not to speak publicly about their differences on the Iran nuclear deal. But Netanyahu says he won’t be silent in the face of the “existential threat.”

On Bennett, says Netanyahu: “He doesn’t have the global standing. He doesn’t have the credibility. He doesn’t have the ability and he doesn’t” have the support of his own divided government.

“The prime minister of Israel must be able to say no to the American government” on issues that threaten Israel,” says Netanyahu, adding that Bennett won’t be able to withstand the pressure.

“Who will do this now?”

Netanyahu: Iran is ‘celebrating’ over the ‘weak’ incoming Israeli government

Netanyahu says Iran is “celebrating” because Israel now has a “weak government.”

“From the moment the US returns to the nuclear deal with Iran, the incoming government won’t approve significant operations in Iran,” says Netanyahu. “A government that is not able to forcefully oppose the international community on the pressing issues for our fate is not worthy of leading Israel.”

Netanyahu says the Biden administration is demanding a settlement freeze in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and has begun pushing for peace talks.

“How will we fight the establishment of a Palestinian state when a majority of the government supports it?” says Netanyahu.

Netanyahu: Bennett committed the ‘greatest fraud,’ the public won’t forget it

Netanyahu notes he’s returned to power from the opposition twice before.

He says his governments had been “forced” to undo the previous governments’ economic policies and will do so again if it returns to power in the future.

He accuses Bennett of perpetrating the “greatest fraud since in Israel’s history,” noting the right-wing leader had ruled out a government with Lapid before the election.

“The public won’t forget this tremendous fraud,” says Netanyahu.

The prime minister says the press will praise Bennett because they know “Bennett and his allies are ‘fake right.'”

Netanyahu hails Yamina MK Amichai Chikli for breaking with his party to oppose the new government.

“He’s not the defector. You, Yamina MKs, are the defectors,” he says.

Netanyahu also says Bennett is setting a precedent under which a party leader with a mere six seats can be crowned premier, “a prime minister who stands at the head of a pin.”

 

Netanyahu: ‘You won’t silence me,’ I reject allegations of incitement

Netanyahu criticizes incoming finance minister Avigdor Liberman for vowing to dump him and the ultra-Orthodox parties in a “landfill.”

“From your perspective, criticism from the right is always incitement,” while critiques from the left are “freedom of speech,” says Netanyahu.

“You won’t silence” Likud voters, the Haredim and the right, adds Netanyahu.

“And you won’t silence me,” he says, adding that his family has been victim of unprecedented “incitement” and defamation.

Netanyahu vows he’ll be back in power soon.

 

Another wildfire rages in West Bank; Adora settlement residents evacuated

Residents of the Adora settlement in the southern West Bank are being evacuated from their homes as a wildfire rages in the area, according to Army Radio.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The speech Lapid didn’t give

A spokesperson for Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid releases the full text of the speech he didn’t give in the Knesset earlier. Lapid decided to forgo the address after right-wing lawmakers heckled Prime Minister-designate Bennett relentlessly.

Below are some excerpts of his prepared remarks:

“In a democratic country, governments rise and fall. A generation goes and a generation comes. That is the natural order of things. This is a complicated coalition, maybe the most complicated in the country’s history, but the reason for its creation is actually simple: It’s time. It’s time. It’s even a little late. This change is unavoidable because time doesn’t stop. It’s time to change the operating system, it’s time for a change of generation.

“But before we look to the future, we have another task – we need to find a way to forgive one another for the past. Hate is a prison, and forgiveness is the way out.

“I look at the past few years in the life of this country; the protests, the anger, the terrible things that have been said in this hall. I don’t want to be held hostage to those years. In the past six years, I have sat in the opposition. Much of that time, I have been angry at the way the government treated us. The solution is not to treat them the same way. The solution is to behave differently.

“I want to say to the opposition from this podium – our door will be open to you. We know that the public that voted for you has real needs. We won’t agree on everything, but we will always listen.”

The speech would have continued:

“After all the insults and the warnings, the real divide in Israeli society isn’t between left and right. The real divide is between moderates and extremists. Those who want to build and those who want to destroy.

“We will not let the extremists destroy the State of Israel. We will not let hate control us. Violent racists don’t become patriots just because they wrap themselves in a flag. They will not define for us what it means to love Israel.

“We are not enemies. Even the most strident opinions, even the most heated arguments, will not turn us into enemies. We will not let extremists destroy our ability to speak to one another and to work together for the good of the country.”

Echoing Netanyahu, Deri accuses Bennett of ‘defrauding’ voters

Shas leader Aryeh Deri accuses incoming prime minister Naftali Bennett of tricking his voters by allying with centrist, left-wing and Islamist parties.

“Naftali Bennett, what contempt and cynicism,” laments Deri during his speech in the plenum.

“This is a fraud, one of the greatest frauds,” he says, echoing Netanyahu.

Gafni to incoming government: In what way are you Jewish?

United Torah Judaism leader Moshe Gafni laces into the new coalition for its proposed reforms on religion and state.

“In what way are you Jews?” he shouts in the plenum.

“Not Shabbat, not conversion… nothing,” he says, repeatedly chanting: “In what way are you Jewish?”

“How is this state Jewish? How is it different from France?”

United Torah Judaism leader MK Moshe Gafni at a conference in Jerusalem on March 7, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Smotrich: New government disdainful of Judaism, relies on ‘terror supporters’

In a fiery speech full of biblical references, Religious Zionism leader Betzalel Smotrich rips into the incoming government as disdainful of Judaism.

“This is a government of hatred and boycotts,” he says, adding that “the only glue is jealousy and hatred,” the “lust for power,” and disdain for the Torah.

Smotrich characterizes the new coalition as an “Israeli government that leaves out the Jews.” He says it’s “not a Jewish state,” but rather one dependent on “terror supporters,” in a reference to the Islamist Ra’am party.

“This is a government of the desecration of God’s name,” he says.

“This won’t be forgiven.”

Top Arab MK: This is a bad government, led by ‘extreme rightists’

Joint List leader Ayman Odeh says that after today, Israel will be “freed of the doctrine of ‘yes Bibi’ or ‘no Bibi,'” underlining that the Likud leader Netanyahu will be shunted to the opposition.

Nonetheless, “This is a bad government,” he says, noting that the interior minister will be “extreme right-wing” Ayelet Shaked and the finance minister “extreme right-wing” Avigdor Liberman.

Odeh claims the new government will harm Arabs in Jerusalem and the Negev and does not represent any sort of ideal of Jewish-Arab cooperation due to its inclusion of Ra’am.

“We are looking for a different Jewish-Arab partnership” based on peace and social equality, he says.

Most of the Joint List will vote against the government.

 

Tibi: We’ll back Mickey Levy for Knesset speaker

The head of the Ta’al faction within the Joint List, which has two lawmakers, announces it’ll support Yesh Atid MK Mickey Levy for Knesset speaker in the vote later today.

But MK Ahmad Tibi doesn’t say whether they’ll vote against the new incoming government or abstain.

Yesh Atid MK MIckey Levy (Courtesy)

Leading 1st Arab party into coalition, Abbas addresses Knesset in Arabic

Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas addresses the Knesset in Arabic, ahead of his entry into the governing coalition.

Before beginning his speech, Likud MK Shlomo Karhi urges him to reveal his agreements with the new coalition.

“I’m not sure you want me to reveal the contacts that I’ve had,” quips Abbas, referring to talks with Likud’s Netanyahu.

Abbas: No one ‘sold the Negev’ to us, we must stop seeing each other as enemies

Ra’am’s Abbas dismisses criticism of the incoming government for promising him generous funding for Arab communities in the Negev as part of the coalition agreements.

“We want all the parties to think differently. No one sold the Negev to Ra’am. The Negev remains in Israel, its residents are citizens of Israel,” he says.

Abbas says it’s time for both the incoming Israeli government and opposition to advance Jewish-Arab “dialogue, so that we understand each other and not view each other as enemies.”

“We belong to other nations, to other religions, to other communities. There is something that connects all Israelis and that’s our citizenship,” he says, adding that he hopes to bolster Jewish-Arab ties in Israel further.

Hundreds at Western Wall join prayer rally against new government

A prayer rally at the Western Wall against the incoming government draws hundreds of religious Zionist and ultra-Orthodox Jews.

The service is being led by Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu.

Hundreds participate in a prayer rally at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City against the new change government which is being sworn in at the Israeli parliament on June 13, 2021. (Noam Revkin Fenton/FLASH90)
Hundreds join a prayer rally at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City against the new change government which is being sworn in at the Israeli parliament on June 13, 2021. (Noam Revkin Fenton/FLASH90)

Tibi pleased Netanyahu out, but opposes new government

Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi says the new government will be even more right-wing than the coalition it is replacing.

“Something good is happening today,” namely Benjamin Netanyahu’s removal from power, following years of his “division and hatred” directed at Arab Israelis, says Tibi.

“But the alternative is right-wing, even more right-wing. I heard the prime minister designate, and he spoke about strengthening the settlements. He spoke about regulation and sovereignty in the Negev,” he says, adding that Arab Israelis know those words are euphemisms for plans that will harm the Bedouin communities in southern Israel.

Joint List party member Ahmad Tibi speaks during a press conference presenting the Joint list Hebrew election campaign in Tel Aviv, February 23, 2021. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

“This government is a government that can’t be supported. Its guidelines are most problematic. It doesn’t freeze the Kaminitz law [on illegal construction]. It doesn’t stop the demolitions in the Negev,” says Tibi.

Tibi adds that he is worried about the right-wing “Flag March” set for the Old City on Tuesday, which could inflame tensions, and the looming evictions of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah under a court order.

Ra’am MK said still on fence on whether to support government or abstain

Ra’am MK Saeed al-Harumi is still mulling whether to support the new government or abstain, the Kan public broadcaster reports, adding that lawmakers from Yesh Atid and his Islamist party are pressuring him to back the coalition.

If al-Harumi were to abstain during the swearing-in vote, there would still be enough Knesset members — 60 in favor to 59 opposed — to approve the government. But a vote by al-Harumi against the government could deny it the majority needed to be sworn in, unless some lawmakers from the majority Arab Joint List decide to abstain, rather than oppose the coalition.

Earlier, al-Harumi said that “there will be a government formed today,” although the lawmaker refused to answer questions on how he planned to vote.

Ra’am MK Saeed al-Harumi at the Knesset, June 13, 2021. (Screen grab/Ynet)

Netanyahu’s military secretary, national security adviser to stay on (for now)

Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett will retain Brig. Gen. Avi Blot in his role as military secretary for the time being. National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat will also stay in office until after his successor is appointed to ensure a smooth transition. Both top officials were appointed by Benjamin Netanyahu.

Bennett will meet with Blot and Ben-Shabbat later this evening for his first security briefing as premier.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) sits next to military secretary Avi Blot during a cabinet meeting on August 16, 2018. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Gantz: We will oppose a ‘bad’ Iran deal, but discreetly

Defense Minister Benny Gantz says the new Israeli government will continue to oppose the US reentry into the Iran nuclear deal — but discreetly.

He criticizes Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks openly clashing with the Biden administration on Iran.

“We will continue to work with the administration and strengthen our ties so that Iran will not obtain nuclear weapons. We will influence them so that the deal, if it is signed, will set Iran back,” says Gantz.

“Obviously, we will oppose a bad deal… but we will do it in the proper forum and with the appropriate means, and not from the Knesset podium,” says Gantz.

He says Israel will retain the option of carrying out a military strike on Iran.

Gantz to Netanyahu: Thanks for your contributions, we’ll take it from here

Gantz, formerly Netanyahu’s coalition partner, thanks him for his contributions to Israel despite the bad blood between them.

“We’ll take it from here,” says Gantz.

Vote for Knesset speaker about to begin

The Knesset is set to begin its vote to swear in a new parliament speaker. Yesh Atid’s Mickey Levy is the new government’s candidate.

Shas nominates its lawmaker Yaakov Margi.

Yesh Atid’s Mickey Levy appointed new Knesset speaker

Yesh Atid MK Mickey Levy is appointed the new Knesset speaker, replacing Likud’s Yariv Levin, after winning 67 of the parliament’s 120 votes.

His rival, Shas lawmaker Yaakov Margi, picks up 52 votes.

Yesh Atid MK MIckey Levy (Courtesy)

Levy will now preside over the confidence vote in the new Bennett-Lapid government, which will begin shortly.

Outgoing Knesset speaker Levin embraces successor

Outgoing Knesset speaker Yariv Levin of Likud warmly embraces his successor, Yesh Atid’s Mickey Levy, earning strong applause in the plenum.

Levin wishes him luck in the position.

New Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) and his predecessor Yariv Levin (Likud) embrace as Levy takes over the job in the Knesset, June 13, 2021. (Noam Moscowitz / Knesset spokesperson)

Levy forgoes his speech and will move along with the confidence vote in the new Knesset, since one of the lawmakers came directly from the hospital to vote.

Knesset begins to vote on swearing in new government

The Knesset begins its confidence vote to swear in the new Bennett-Lapid government.

Bennett-Lapid government wins Knesset majority; Netanyahu is out after 12 years

The Knesset swears in the 36th government, appointing the right-wing Naftali Bennett the next prime minister and removing Benjamin Netanyahu from power after 12 consecutive years.

Outgoing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands in the Knesset with newly elected Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, June 13, 2021 (Channel 12 screenshot)

The so-called “change government” is approved with 60 of the Knesset’s 120 lawmakers in favor and 59 opposed. It does not require the backing of 61 lawmakers to be sworn in, rather a simply majority.

Ra’am MK Saeed al-Harumi abstains.

The final tally in the Knesset vote — 60 votes for the Bennett-Lapid government, 59 against, June 13, 2021 (Channel 12 screenshot).

Cheers erupt in plenum as new government approved

Cheers erupt in the Knesset chamber as Naftali Bennett becomes prime minister and a new government is sworn in, nearly three months after the last election.

A defeated Netanyahu is surrounded by his former coalition partners, who shake his hand.

Netanyahu shakes Bennett’s hand

Netanyahu offers a brief handshake to Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett.

The new opposition leader and former premier is wearing a face mask in the plenum, making his facial expressions inscrutable.

Bennett sworn in as prime minister

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stands at the Knesset plenum and vows to “maintain allegiance to the State of Israel and its laws, to faithfully fulfill my role as prime minister/a member of the government and to uphold Knesset resolutions.”

He is followed by Yair Lapid, the alternate prime minister and foreign minister.

The rest of the cabinet members will follow individually, in alphabetical order.

Thousands cheer end of Netanyahu era at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square

Thousands of people are celebrating the new government in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv.

The municipality building lights up in the colors of Israel’s flag for the occasion.

Separately, outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, hundreds hold a pro-Netanyahu rally.

Biden congratulates PM Bennett, says looking forward to working with him

US President Joe Biden congratulates Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and says 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,” says Biden.

“Israel has no better friend than the United States. The bond that unites our people is evidence of our shared values and decades of close cooperation, and as we continue to strengthen our partnership, the United States remains unwavering in its support for Israel’s security. My administration is fully committed to working with the new Israeli government to advance security, stability, and peace for Israelis, Palestinians, and people throughout the broader region.”

Milestones set by new government: 1st kippah-wearing PM, 1st to include Arabs

The new government is breaking some new ground in Israel’s history, as its premier Naftali Bennett becomes the first kippa-wearing Orthodox prime minister and the Ra’am party becomes the first Arab Israeli faction to join a governing coalition.

Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid, Yamina’s Naftali Bennett and Ra’am’s Mansour Abbas agree to form a coalition, to be joined by five other parties onJune 2, 2021. (Courtesy of Ra’am)

A record-breaking nine women hold ministerial portfolios in the new government, including some of the most influential ones: transportation minister Merav Michaeli (Labor), interior minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina), education minister Yifat Shasha-Biton (New Hope), economy minister Orna Barbivai (Yesh Atid), energy minister Karine Elharrar (Yesh Atid), social equality minister Merav Cohen (Yesh Atid), immigrant absorption minister Pnina Tamano-Shata (Blue and White), environmental protection minister Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), science minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen (Blue and White).

Netanyahu sets Monday meeting with Bennett on transition of power

Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu will hold a meeting with the new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday to hand over the reins of the premiership, his office says.

The meeting will take place at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.

PA, Hamas say new government won’t change dealings with Israel

Palestinian factions in the West Bank and Gaza say they see little difference between the exiting government of Benjamin Netanyahu and the new “change government” led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Hamas, a terror group that rules the Gaza Strip, says Netanyahu’s departure will not end their attempts to destroy the Jewish state.

“No matter the form of the Israeli government, it will not change the nature of our dealings with [Israel]. It is a settlement occupation entity that must be resisted and from which our rights must be wrested by any and all forms of resistance, foremost of which is armed struggle,” says Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhum.

In Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry says in a statement that they expect to see few changes in Israeli policy towards the Palestinians under Bennett’s fragile eight-party coalition.

“This time, a government without Netanyahu was formed in Israel. However, it is inaccurate to call it a ‘government of change,’ unless one means to say that Netanyahu is no longer there. As for [the new government’s] policies, we estimate that will see no difference, or perhaps even worse ones, ” the Foreign Ministry says.

Austria’s Kurz congratulates Bennett, Lapid on new government

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz congratulates Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid on the new government.

Elkin, Hendel to resign Knesset under ‘Norwegian law’

New Hope ministers Ze’ev Elkin and Yoaz Hendel announce that they will be making use of a law that allows them to resign from their parliamentary duties to allow the next two lawmakers on the party list — Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi and former MK Zvi Hauser — to enter Knesset.

The Norwegian law allows any MK who is appointed to a cabinet post to resign temporarily from the Knesset, thereby permitting the next candidate on the party’s list to enter parliament in his or her stead.

Outgoing Minister of Environmental Protection Zeev Elkin speaks at a ceremony at the Ministry of Environmental Protection in Jerusalem on May 18 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Bennett thanks Biden, says looking forward to strengthening Israel-US ties

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett thanks US President Joe Biden for his congratulations.

“Thank you Mr. President! I look forward to working with you to strengthen the ties between our two nations,” he tweets.

Activist Shirley Pinto to become first deaf Knesset member

Shirley Pinto of the Yamina party will become Israel’s first deaf Knesset member, as Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahane announces he will leave the parliament under the so-called Norwegian Law.

As next down on the party’s list, Pinto will enter the Knesset in his place.

Pinto is a long-time activist for disability-related issues, specifically those dealing with the hearing impaired, and serves as Yamina’s representative in the World Zionist Congress.

New Right heads Naftali Bennett (L) and Ayelet Shaked (R) with Knesset candidate deaf rights activist Shirley Pinto, January 8, 2019. (New Right/File)

Labor MK, suffering from spinal ailment, voted for government while she was lying down

Labor MK Emilie Moatti came directly from the hospital to the Knesset to vote for the incoming government.

She is suffering from a spinal ailment — a rare infection after a routine medical check she underwent last week — and was unable to stand. Channel 12 publicizes a photo of the lawmaker.

Newly elected Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy chose not to deliver his planned speech so that the government vote could be held right away, sparing Moatti any delay. She was taken back out of the chamber as soon as she had cast her vote. With the coalition winning the Knesset’s approval by the narrowest possible simple majority, 60-59, every vote was crucial.

Labor MK Emilie Moatti (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

New government holds festive first cabinet meeting

The new Israeli government holds a festive first cabinet meeting.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett presides over the meeting, which is open to the press. He opens his remarks with the “Shehechiyanu” prayer of thanksgiving.

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

Bennett vows that the government will work to “mend the rift in the nation” after two years of political deadlock.

He says the new cabinet meetings will start on time on Sunday mornings, in an apparent criticism of Netanyahu, who was notoriously late for meetings. And he urges his ministers to show “restraint” over the numerous ideological differences between the disparate parties in the coalition to ensure its stability.

Lapid, sitting alongside Bennett, says “friendship and trust” were the foundation of the government and only “friendship and trust” will keep it in power.

Sitting on the sidelines is Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit (2R) at the first cabinet meeting of the new government on June 13, 2021. (Tal Schneider/Times of Israel)

Germany’s Merkel congratulates PM Bennett

German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulates incoming Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett after an alliance of parties ousted Benjamin Netanyahu and formed a new government.

“Germany and Israel are connected by a unique friendship that we want to strengthen further. With this in mind, I look forward to working closely with you,” Merkel says in a message addressed to Bennett and shared by her spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer on Twitter.

World Jewish Congress confident Bennett government will boost Diaspora ties

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder congratulates Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his alternate, Yair Lapid.

“I congratulate the leaders of Israel’s political parties who have come together to form a government of national unity that includes all sides of the Israeli political spectrum, from right to left, religious to secular. I am delighted that these efforts have now come to fruition and that this new government has been established,” he says in a statement.

“I know incoming Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and incoming Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and am confident that their partnership, together with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Avigdor Liberman, Gideon Sa’ar, Merav Michaeli, Nitzan Horowitz, Mansour Abbas, and their colleagues from their respective parties, will provide Israel with stability and the same spirit of unity the people of Israel demonstrated during the recent Israel-Hamas military conflict. The State of Israel must be a beacon of unity for the entire Jewish people, and I am confident that its new government will also help bring Diaspora Jewry together.”

At Knesset, MKs and ministers pack up offices

Ministers and lawmakers have begun packing up their Knesset offices as the handover of power begins.

An Army Radio reporter tweets photos of Yair Lapid’s staff clearing out the parliament’s opposition leader office, to make way for Benjamin Netanyahu, who will be vacating his prime minister quarters for Bennett.

Other Likud ministers, including Yuval Steinitz and Miri Regev, have also started packing up, Hebrew media reports say.

 

UK congratulates new Israeli leaders, hopes for ‘peace in the region’

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab congratulates Bennett and Lapid on the new government.

In a tweet, he says he looks forward to continued British-Israeli “cooperation on security, trade and climate change, and working together to secure peace in the region.”

Bennett receiving first security briefing as PM

National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat is giving Naftali Bennett a security briefing, his first as prime minister.

Biden calls Bennett to congratulate him on forming government

US President Joe Biden has called Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to congratulate him on forming an Israeli government.

The phone call comes around two hours after the government is sworn in.

Bennett thanks Biden for his support for Israel and its security.

“Prime Minister Bennett noted his appreciation for the president, and for his support for Israel during the recent operation in Gaza (Guardian of the Walls), and noted that he considers him a great friend of the State of Israel,” a statement from Bennett’s office says.

“In their conversation, the leaders emphasized the importance of the alliance between Israel and the United States, as well as their commitment to strengthening ties between the two countries, and maintaining the security of the State of Israel.”

The White House readout, however, also mentions Iran and the US intention to advance peace with the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks to US President Joe Biden on June 13, 2021. (Courtesy / Ariel Zandberg)

“President Biden highlighted his decades of steadfast support for the US-Israel relationship and his unwavering commitment to Israel’s security. He expressed his firm intent to deepen cooperation between the United States and Israel on the many challenges and opportunities facing the region. The leaders agreed that they and their teams would consult closely on all matters related to regional security, including Iran,” it says.

“The president also conveyed that his administration intends to work closely with the Israeli government on efforts to advance peace, security, and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians.”

Netanyahu’s sons console him after losing power: Proud of you, Dad

Benjamin Netanyahu’s two sons, Yair and Avner, post messages of support for their father on social media, after he is removed from power.

“I love you and am so proud of you, Dad! One of the greatest leaders in Israel’s history,” tweets Yair Netanyahu.

“Couldn’t be more proud of you,” adds Avner.

Defense minister Gantz speaks with US counterpart, after government formed

Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks to his American counterpart, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, after being sworn in again following the formation of a new Israeli government.

“I greatly look forward to continuing the paramount work alongside Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin to protect the steadfast alliance between Israel and the US, the stability of the Middle East, and the safety of our peoples,” Gantz says after the call.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin hosts an honor cordon welcoming Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Pentagon in Washington on June 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Bennett edits Twitter bio to PM of Israel, Netanyahu to opposition leader

Benjamin Netanyahu has edited his Twitter bio to reflect that he’s “the head of the opposition and the leader of Likud.”

Naftali Bennett’s bio is swiftly revised to reflect that he is prime minister and leader of the Yamina party.

Canada’s Trudeau congratulates Bennett, thanks Netanyahu

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sends his congratulations to the new head of the Israeli government, Naftali Bennett, saying that he “looks forward” to working with him.

“Canada and Israel are close friends bound together by shared democratic values, a long history of cooperation, and vibrant people-to-people ties,” Trudeau says in a statement released by his office.

The prime minister reiterates that Ottawa “remains steadfast in its commitment to a two-state solution, with Israelis and Palestinians living in peace, security, and dignity – without fear and with their human rights respected.”

He also thanks former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had been in power for 12 years before being ousted on Sunday, “for his valuable partnership over the years, at a time when Canada and Israel achieved a great deal together.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Moroccan Crown Prince Moulay Hassan, and Moroccan King Mohammed VI, in Paris, November 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, Pool)

British PM congratulates Bennett, Lapid

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson joins the chorus of congratulations for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

“As we emerge from COVID-19, this is an exciting time for the UK and Israel to continue working together to advance peace and prosperity for all,” he tweets.

US senators, lawmakers welcome new Israeli leadership

US senators and lawmakers are also praising the new Israeli government coalition.

US Reform movement hopeful new government will advance pluralistic agenda

The North American Reform Jewish Movement welcomes the new Israeli government, led by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid.

“As the largest Jewish movement in Diaspora life, we are hopeful that this new government, unprecedented in the ideological diversity of its members, will be able to implement many of the aspirations that PM Bennett laid out in his inaugural speech,” it says.

Segregated-gender Orthodox prayer in the Robinson’s Arch pluralistic prayer platform at the Western Wall, July 13, 2018. (Eric Woodward)

“We hope the government will renew ties with our movement in Israel and abroad, commit to furthering a pluralistic agenda, combat extremism and incitement — including through police enforcement against the horrific incidents of hatred and physical violence as seen on Friday at the Western Wall plaza — and be a government for all of Israel’s citizens. We also hope this government will reaffirm the importance of a strong US-Israel relationship, prioritizing bipartisan outreach and engagement.

“PM Naftali Bennett and his government will face formidable challenges in the coming days, weeks, and years, yet we are hopeful for a stable government that will lead with integrity and courage.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership and connections with the government of Israel – to work with political parties on the right and the left, and for all future opportunities to work together in building a more pluralistic, tolerant, and democratic state,” it concludes.

The new government is expected to implement the plan for the Western Wall’s pluralistic plaza. The new coalition also includes Israel’s first Reform rabbi lawmaker, Labor’s Gilad Kariv.

Blinken speaks to Lapid, invites him to Washington

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken calls Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to congratulate him on the new government, Lapid’s office says.

“The two discussed the special relationship between the United States and Israel. During the call the foreign minister thanked Secretary Blinken for the United States’ unwavering support for Israel,” the statement says.

“At the end of the call, Secretary Blinken invited Foreign Minister Lapid to Washington.”

 

EU congratulates Bennett, hopes to strengthen ties

EU Council President Charles Michel congratulates the new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in a message on Twitter, after an alliance of parties ousts Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Looking forward to strengthen(ing) the (EU-Israel) partnership for common prosperity and towards lasting regional peace & stability,” he tweets.

The European Council represents the European Union’s member states.

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