Upon receiving the mandate to form Israel’s 37th government — and the sixth under his leadership — Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu says that he will be a prime minister for “all of Israel’s citizens, without exception.”
“The people decided clearly in favor of a government headed by me,” he begins, and “we’ll do everything to ensure a stable, successful government — a responsible government… that will act on behalf of all Israeli citizens, without exception.”
He says what is happening “reflects the democratic process that we are rightly proud of, [in] the sovereign, democratic State of Israel.”
Netanyahu adds: “Israel’s freedom and its achievements are not to be taken for granted. In the past decade, we turned Israel into a rising power among the nations… one of the world’s 10 leading nations, even though we are a thousandth of the world’s population.”
With his new coalition, “we’ll do everything to reach still greater heights.”
He says he is as emotional upon receiving the right to establish a government as he was “the first time, 26 years ago.”
Sounding conciliatory, he says: “Voters gave their clear support for me, my Likud movement, and to the partners who share our path. But I want to say: I intend to be the prime minister of everyone — those who voted for me and those who did not vote for me. That is my responsibility as the prime minister of Israel.”
“It reflects what I believe in and it is what guides my actions,” he adds.
“This is how I acted, together with my colleagues, to bring millions of vaccines for all Israeli citizens, to bring the best decade in Israeli history for security and the economy for all Israeli citizens, to bring four historic peace accords for all Israeli citizens — and for the benefit of all the peoples of the region, or at least all who seek peace, which is most of them.”
He says facing Israel’s challenges requires “internal unity” — and so he intends to work to “enlarge the spheres of agreement among us.”
While there are indeed differences, there are many areas on which most if not all Israelis can agree, he says.
“There is wide agreement that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people” but also on the imperative “to preserve the individual rights of every citizen.”
He says there is wide agreement, too, on the need to fight terror; to prevent Iran from attaining the nuclear weapons with which it intends to directly threaten Israel’s existence; to maintain the unity of Jerusalem, and to achieve more peace agreements — “peace out of strength, peace in return for peace, with additional Arab states, and thus largely to end the Israeli-Arab conflict. I didn’t say the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he notes, “but in my opinion this [flourishing of regional peace agreements] is the advance stage, that will bring about that result too.”
He also vows to advance the economy, reduce the cost of living, and keep extracting the gas from Israel’s offshore fields.
“There is widespread agreement, citizens of Israel, that we are brothers and we are destined to live next to each other, with all the differences and the contrasts,” he says.
While many are happy with the election results, others are issuing “prophecies of doom,” asserting that Israel is “entering a dark tunnel, that this is the end of the state, the end of democracy — scaring the public,” he says.
It’s not the first time these things have been said. “They said it about [former Likud prime minister Menachem] Begin and about me. It wasn’t accurate then and it’s not accurate today.”