Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s record 12-year rule is set to end on Sunday, when parliament meets to pass a new government that has promised to heal the divided nation with his departure.
Netanyahu, the most dominant Israeli politician of his generation, failed to form a government after the March 23 elections, the fourth in two years.
Millionaire Naftali Bennett is preparing to replace him as head of the new government made up of unlikely allies, including left, center and Arab deputies, which cooperated with opposition leader Yair Lapid.
The Knesset met to approve the new government in a vote of confidence that follows speeches and debate, which can last up to four hours. After ratification, the new government must take the oath.
Bennett, 49, an Orthodox Jew, will serve as prime minister for two years before Lapid, a former television host, takes office.
“Thank you, Benjamin Netanyahu, for your long service, full of accomplishments, on behalf of the State of Israel,” Bennett said in a speech at the beginning of the session.
The government, which for the first time includes a party representing the Arab minority, which makes up 21% of Israel’s population, plans largely to avoid drastic changes on controversial international issues, such as policy toward the Palestinians, to focus on internal reforms.
With little prospect of progress toward resolving the long conflict with Israel, many Palestinians will likely remain unaffected by the change of government, saying Bennett will likely follow the same agenda as Netanyahu.
This appears likely in relation to Israel’s main security concern, Iran. A spokesman for Bennett said he had promised “strong opposition” to any US return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, but would seek cooperation with US President Joe Biden’s government.
“Love you, thank you!” Netanyahu wrote in a message to the Israeli people on Twitter with a picture of the 71-year-old leader with the Israeli flag in the background.
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