Netanyahu said set to forgo traditional transfer-of-power ceremony with Lapid

Incoming PM to skip transitional process, after he denied a similar ceremony to Bennett who took over as premier in June 2021

File: Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu (left) has a briefing on the Israel-Gaza conflict with Prime Minister Yair Lapid, August 7, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)
File: Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu (left) has a briefing on the Israel-Gaza conflict with Prime Minister Yair Lapid, August 7, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will reportedly forgo the traditional ceremony handing over the premiership with Prime Minister Yair Lapid, and will only take part in a transition briefing with the outgoing premier.

Hebrew media reported Wednesday that neither Lapid’s nor Netanyahu’s offices pushed for the traditional ceremony and that they would skip a courteous transfer of power after the swearing-in of the new Likud-led government on Thursday.

In a statement, Likud said the reports were wrong and that it had not been offered a change-over ceremony, but in any case, it was not interested in one.

Netanyahu had refused to participate in the ceremony when Naftali Bennett took over Israel’s premiership in June 2021 and only held a brief, 30-minute transition meeting with him. The sit-down ended without the traditional, public good wishes, without a handshake, and with no photo-op.

The Likud leader was famously derisive and dismissive of his successor, questioning the legitimacy of his government and promising to return to power quickly.

In November, Channel 12 published a photo of a handwritten note with the words “Be right back!,” that was left for Bennett on the desk of the Prime Minister’s Office when he arrived to take over as premier last summer.

A note left by Benjamin Netanyahu to his successor in 2021 declares, ‘Be Right Back!’ as aired by Channel 12 news on November 4, 2022 (Channel 12)

It was not clear whether the note was left by Netanyahu himself or one of his aides, though it likely would not have been without his approval.

During his year-and-a-half in the opposition, Netanyahu repeatedly sought to delegitimize the Bennett-Lapid coalition that succeeded in ousting him after 12 years in power.

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)

Throughout Bennett’s tenure, Netanyahu refused to attend routine security briefings, also breaking with decorum. While the opposition leader is required by law to receive security updates from the prime minister, Netanyahu refused to comply with the procedure and regularly argued against Bennett’s legitimacy as premier. Instead, he received the updates from Bennett’s military secretary, also Avi Gil, managing to avoid being photographed while receiving a briefing from his political rival.

After Lapid took over in late June 2022, Netanyahu finally attended such a meeting with the outgoing premier, amid an escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip this summer.

In June, Bennett held a warm transition ceremony for Lapid as his successor hours after the Knesset voted to disband and hold elections another round of elections, as per their power-sharing agreement following elections in March 2021.

File: Outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, left, and his replacement, incoming premier Yair Lapid, along with their spouses, during a handover ceremony at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. (Haim Zach/GPO)

The November 1 vote handed Netanyahu’s Likud and his ultra-Orthodox and far-right allies 64 seats in Israel’s 120-seat Knesset.

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