According to PTI, Naftali Bennett was sworn in as Israel's next prime minister on Sunday after an eight-party coalition joined together to topple Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after his 12-year dominance in the country.
Bennett, a 49-year-old head of the right-wing Yamina party, was sworn in as Israel's 13th prime minister after the Knesset elected him with a razor-thin majority of 60-59 votes in the 120-member House. One member of the legislature did not vote.
Bennett would serve as prime minister for two years under a rotational deal, after which he would be replaced by Yair Lapid, the key architect of the new administration, according to Al Jazeera. Bennett's coalition appears to be an unusual mix of left-wing, centrist, and right-wing groups, as well as a party that represents Israeli Palestinians. Bennett's Yamina Party, the incoming Prime Minister's party, has only six members in the House.
Bennett had earlier introduced his new government's ministers in an address that was repeatedly interrupted by supporters of Netanyahu, who is 71 years old.
According to PTI, he stated, "At the key moment, we took responsibility." “The alternative to this government would have been more elections, more hatred, and the country would have disintegrated. “It is past time for responsible leaders from across the country to put an end to this madness.”
Netanyahu's fans booed him throughout the address, calling him a "criminal" and a "lie." “If we are destined to go into Opposition, we will do so with our heads held high, until we can overthrow it,” the former prime minister stated in his speech.
Bennett was once Netanyahu's chief of staff and had a tumultuous relationship with him when he was the defense minister. Bennett, despite being a right-winger, turned down Netanyahu's invitation to join him following the March 23 election, according to Reuters.
The formation of the new government brought an end to the country's political deadlock, which had seen four elections in less than two years, all of which yielded inconclusive results. However, according to PTI, opinion polls show that a majority of Israelis are not optimistic about the coalition's long-term viability because the eight parties do not agree on most of the country's vital concerns.
However, observers believe that the fear of Netanyahu's return and the potential political ruin of some right-wing forces that have gone against their voting constituency's wishes to join hands are the two variables most likely to prolong or determine the current fragile coalition's existence.
Bennett was congratulated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on succeeding Netanyahu.
“Congratulations on becoming Prime Minister of Israel, Excellence Naftali Bennett,” Modi tweeted. “I am looking forward to meeting you and extending the strategic collaboration between our two nations as we commemorate 30 years of diplomatic relations upgrading next year.”
Modi also hailed Netanyahu for his "leadership and personal attention to the India-Israel strategic cooperation" in another tweet.
According to the White House, US President Joe Biden also phoned with Bennett and offered him "warm congratulations." The Biden administration aims to cooperate closely with the Bennett government "on efforts to enhance peace, security, and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians," according to the statement.