Benjamin Netanyahu ousted from power as new Israeli government wins majority vote

Israel’s parliament has removed Benjamin Netanyahu from power and voted to usher in a new coalition government.

Naftali Bennett, the leader of the right-wing Yamina party, will take the helm as Israel’s next prime minister, sending Netanyahu to the opposition benches.

The so-called “change” government won with a wafer-thin majority of just 60-59 with one abstention in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.

Bennett will be formally sworn in as prime minister at a ceremony in the Israeli president’s office on Monday.

The majority vote in Bennett’s favour proved the final dramatic chapter in Israel’s worst political crisis in modern history.

Over the past two-and-a-half years, the Jewish state held four inconclusive elections as Netanyahu’s rivals struggled to remove him from power.

They finally succeeded after the fourth election, in March 2021, when party leaders from across the political spectrum put aside their differences and agreed to form a unity government.

Ra’am, an Islamist party, will also be part of the coalition, making it the first Arab party to ever join an Israeli government, rather than lend it external support.

Netanyahu could now face a leadership challenge within his right-wing Likud party.

Though he remains by far the most influential and popular figure in Likud, he is also standing trial on corruption and fraud charges which have severely damaged his public image.

Netanyahu claims that those charges are a politically motivated “witch hunt”, and has accused the media, judiciary and Israeli police force of conspiring against him.

Last year, protesters began holding weekly rallies across the country calling on him to resign.

The new Bennett coalition will face considerable diplomatic, security and financial challenges.

They include Iran, a fragile ceasefire with Palestinian militants in Gaza, a war crimes probe by the International Criminal Court, and economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic.

On top of that, their coalition of parties commands only a razor-thin majority in parliament, 61 of the Knesset’s 120 seats, and will still have to contend with Netanyahu – who is sure to be a formidable head of the opposition.

– AP

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