Naftali Bennett hails ‘new days’ for Israel as world leaders welcome new prime minister

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Naftali Bennett hails ‘new days’ for Israel as world leaders welcome new prime minister


World leaders congratulate Naftali Bennett after being sworn in as new Israeli prime minister, ending Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12 consecutive years in power.

Bennett, a former leader of the far-right settlers, addressed his newly sworn-in cabinet on Sunday evening, saying the country was “at the start of new days.” He added, “The citizens of Israel are all looking to us now, and the burden of proof is on us. “

US President Joe Biden spoke with Bennett on Sunday and “expressed his firm intention 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 relating to regional security, including Iran,” the White House said.

An earlier statement said Biden was eager to work with Bennett, adding: “Israel doesn’t have a better friend than the United States. “

Bennet was sworn in on Sunday night after Opposition Leader Yair Lapid, a former centrist news anchor, won a confidence vote in the Knesset with a slim 60-59 seat advantage. Under a power-sharing deal, Bennett will hand the reins over to Lapid after two years.

Bennett, 49, told parliament ahead of the vote that his government “represents all of Israel” and that the country, after four inconclusive elections in less than two years, had been “thrown into a maelstrom of hatred and infighting” .

“The time has come for different leaders, from all layers of the population, to stop, to stop this madness”, he said, to the cries of anger of “liar” and “criminal” of the opponents. of right. Two were dragged outside by security.

Questions and answers

Who is Naftali Bennett?

Spectacle

A former leader of the far-right settlers, Naftali Bennett was once an assistant and senior adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu and headed Israel’s education and defense ministries in his governments.
Bennett, who wants to annex most of the occupied West Bank, remains ideologically close to Netanyahu and was once a member of his ruling Likud party. However, the 49-year-old fell in love with his former boss.

A pillar of Israel’s religious right, Bennett is a former leader of Yesha, the main Jewish settler movement in the West Bank. He made the expansion of settlements, the annexation of Palestinian land and the rejection of a Palestinian state a feature of his political program.

“I wouldn’t give the Arabs an extra inch,” he said in 2018. “We have to let go of the idea that if we give them more land, the world will love us. “

The son of San Francisco immigrants, Bennett became a high-tech millionaire after selling an anti-fraud software company to an American security firm. On certain issues, the former commando is less conservative than its hard-right colleague, notably the rights of homosexuals and the relationship between religion and state. Olivier holmes

Photographie : Yonatan Sindel/Pool Flash 90
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Bennett has been branded a traitor by some politicians on the religious right, who accused him of abandoning his ideology to join Jewish “leftists” and Arab politicians.

After Bennett’s government explicitly pledged not to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, some prominent figures abroad have stressed the need for the pursuit of peace in their congratulatory messages. British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said: “I look forward to continuing cooperation on security, trade and climate change, and working together to secure peace in the region.

Israelis celebrate swearing-in of new government in Tel Aviv Photographie : Oded Balilty/AP

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed 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 rights. respected human beings ”.

European Council President Charles Michel said he looked forward to strengthening the EU-Israel partnership “for common prosperity and for lasting regional peace and stability”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised Bennett in comments tweeted by her spokesperson. “Germany and Israel are linked by a unique friendship which we want to further strengthen. With this in mind, I look forward to working closely with you, ”she said.

Protesters who staged rallies outside Netanyahu’s Jerusalem residence for months calling for his ouster, gathered again on Saturday night to celebrate. A black banner hung on a wall read: “Bye Bye, Bibi, Bye bye. “

Among Palestinians in the occupied territories, including blockaded Gaza, Netanyahu’s departure has been welcomed. But there is little optimism around the new government.

Bennett has ruled out a Palestinian state and wants Israel to maintain ultimate control over all the land it occupies. He runs a self-proclaimed “government of change” that is a mix of ideologically opposed politicians ranging from die-hard Jewish religious nationalists to a small Arab Islamist party.

The published coalition agreements showed that the new government would focus primarily on economic and social issues, such as passing a state budget and building new hospitals, rather than risking an internal struggle by trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. However, Bennett will have executive powers as Prime Minister to further strengthen the occupation.

The new administration is emerging from a political deadlock that has seen four snap elections since 2019. Meanwhile, Netanyahu, who is famous for his political skills, has managed to keep his rivals bickering and dividing as he clung to the power, even after being indicted in three criminal corruption cases on charges he denies.

The government’s first major test will take place on Tuesday when a parade in the presence of far-right Jewish nationalists is scheduled to march through Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem.

Israeli police had altered the route to avoid the Muslim Quarter in the Old City after a similar march last month played a key role in escalating tensions that led to the latest conflict in Gaza. However, the planned march will still pass through Arab areas and is seen as deeply provocative.

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