JERUSALEM (AFP) – After a record 12 years under Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel entered a new era Sunday (June 13), voting in a motley coalition united by animosity towards “Bibi” and installing his one-time protege Naftali Bennett as prime minister.
Sixty members of the Knesset voted in favour of the ideologically divided alliance and 59 against, with one abstention.
Bennett will serve as prime minister for two years, after which coalition architect, centrist Yair Lapid, is set to take over.
Meanwhile US President Joe Biden congratulated Bennett on Sunday.
“I congratulate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and all the members of the new Israeli cabinet,” Biden said in a statement.
“I look forward to working with Prime Minister Bennett to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations. Israel has no better friend than the United States.”
Biden added that he was “fully committed to working with the new Israeli government to advance security, stability, and peace for Israelis, Palestinians, and people throughout the broader region.”
Bennett, a right-wing Jewish nationalist and former tech millionaire, will take over at the helm of the eight-party bloc, united only by their shared disdain for the hawkish right-wing leader.
In a Knesset speech before the vote, the 49-year-old Bennett promised the new government, a coalition of ideologically divergent parties, “represents all of Israel.”