JERUSALEM — Benjamin Netanyahu’s long and noisy reign ended on Sunday with one final streak against the world.
The embittered ex-prime minister channeled his inner Trump to pretend the Israeli elections were fraudulent and label his opponents as fascists and renegades, and compare them to the Iranian and North Korean regimes. He lashed out at President Biden, claiming that the State of Israel faces an existential threat if his government is not powerful enough to say “no” to the United States.
In fact, the new government was democratically elected on Sunday, with a parliamentary vote granting a very slim ruling majority to a coalition of opposition parties led by new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and new Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. .
Bennett, 49, and Lapid, 57, signed a rotation agreement, with Bennett serving as prime minister for the first two years.
Almost unknown outside of Israel, Bennett, a die-hard nationalist, and centrist Lapid succeeded where nearly a generation of politicians failed: to replace Netanyahu, 71, whose 12 years in power have turned he is Israel’s longest-serving and most dominant prime minister in the country. modern leader.
Netanyahu did not leave gracefully. He was sensitive to comparisons with Donald Trump, disputing claims that he adopted the style and language of the former president. But Netanyahu could not resist one final tribute: becoming the first prime minister in Israel’s history to refuse to participate in the traditional handover ceremony marking the peaceful handover of power.
In his kickoff in the Knesset, Netanyahu claimed that his ousting could lead to the very destruction of Israel.
He disparaged Bennett, who entered politics as Netanyahu’s chief of staff. “Bennett? He does not have the international reputation, ability or knowledge. An Israeli prime minister must be able to say “no” to an American president… An Israeli government that cannot stand firmly against the international community – it is not surprising that they are celebrating today in Iran.
Netanyahu also made the completely unfounded claim that Biden would not protect Israel, and compared the deal with Iran – which was signed by President Obama and destroyed by Trump – to Americans who failed to stop the Holocaust.
“The new US administration asked me to keep our disagreements silent,” he said, explaining that he replied “No!” to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. “But I told them we wouldn’t, and I’ll tell you why. The lessons of history are before my eyes. In 1944, at the height of the Holocaust, President Roosevelt refused to bomb trains and gas chambers, which could have saved our people.
Netanyahu is expected to continue serving in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, as the leader of the opposition.
Naftali Bennett faces an uphill battle to reassure and unify Israelis after two and a half years of political upheaval, a brutal month of civil war and a deadly conflict with Hamas, the ruling militia in the Gaza Strip.
His speech in parliament could barely be heard despite endless screams and taunts from Netanyahu’s allies, who find themselves in opposition for the first time in more than a decade. As Knesset members yelled and held up posters – some were escorted out of the bedroom – Bennett’s young children waved “love” hands at him from the gallery.
Lapid, the mastermind of the coalition, which will become the next prime minister, was so appalled by the behavior of Likud members that he gave up his speech altogether.
“I am skipping the speech I had planned to give today because I am only here for one thing: to ask my mother for forgiveness,” he said.
“My mother is 86 years old and we do not ask her to come to Jerusalem lightly. We did it because I assumed you would be able to control yourself and behave politically, and she would see the smooth transition of government.
“When she was born, there was no State of Israel. Tel Aviv was a small city of 30,000 inhabitants and we did not have a parliament. I wanted her to be proud of the democratic process in Israel. Instead, she – along with all citizens of Israel – is embarrassed by you and clearly remembers why it’s time to take your place.
On a historic day in Israeli politics, parliament also elected a new Knesset speaker: Mickey Levy, a member of Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid party.
The White House appeared to breathe a sigh of relief with Netanyahu’s departure. Unlike the three weeks Biden waited before calling Netanyahu after his inauguration in January, the president called to congratulate Bennett within two hours of taking the oath.
Netanyahu’s last days in power will be remembered for the avalanche of incitement, insults and threats leveled against Bennett by his supporters. In a warning that has not been heard in Israel in the 25 years since the 1995 assassination of the then prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, the country’s top internal security official, Nadav Argaman, said warned that violent language emanating from elected officials could result in loss of life.
The new government is the most diverse in Israel’s history and the first to include a predominantly Arab party. Raam, the political wing of the Israeli Islamic Movement, and Meretz, the leftist party led by openly gay Nitzan Horowitz, are both members.
The eight political parties in the cabinet range from Avigdor Lieberman’s nationalist Israel Beyteinu, who once called for the transfer of Israeli Arab citizens to a future state of Palestine, to Labor, who advocate a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians. Bennett’s Yamina Party, which mainly represents Jewish settlers from the West Bank, holds just 6 seats out of the House’s 120 members.
“An Arab in the village has put an end to the Prime Minister’s Wild West treatment of Arab citizens of Israel.“
– Fadi Amun, Israeli university student.
Special attention will be given to the leader of Raam Mansour Abbas, a 47-year-old dentist from the Galilean city of Mghar, and a longtime activist for the integration of political Islam into the mainstream of Israel. He was virtually an unknown until the most recent electoral cycle, when Netanyahu, sensing possible defeat and seeking new allies, prompted him to abandon the United Arab List, the largest block of Arab-majority parties.
Netanyahu, who until recently called Israeli Arab leaders “terrorists,” got a makeover with honorific Arab “Abu Yair,” and campaigning alongside Abbas, the most conservative leader of an Arab party Israeli, has pledged significant budget concessions to Israel’s Arab minority — about 22 percent of the general population, which has historically faced significant discrimination.
But faced with pressure from his right flank, including Bennett, Netanyahu quickly reneged on his promises. Yet at that time Abbas, presented as a possible ally of the Prime Minister, was now part of the political landscape.
He used his newly earned political capital to seal Netanyahu’s fate. Abbas, as much as Bennett, created the new coalition, helping to push the fledgling government into a majority.
Speaking to political activist Afif Abu Much, Fadi Amon, university student, said that seeing Abbas among the new coalition members had left him with a sort of “cognitive dissonance.”
“It used to be said that Netanyahu is a political genius, and he is, but this time a village Arab has put an end to the Prime Minister’s Wild West treatment of Arab citizens of Israel. “
The stakes are high for the 73-year-old country. Speaking on a panel on Israeli identity, Abu Much said the first thing the government must impose, to heal Israel’s fractured society, is that “the word ‘israeli’ must cease to be synonymous with ‘jew. ‘
The issue of Israel has pursued Yair Lapid for much of his life. During the first decade of the 2000s, Lapid, then a popular talk show host, interviewed nearly every living Israeli prime minister amid segments of stand-up comedy and popular music. In March 2003, a day after the formation of a new Israeli government, he interviewed the new Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy, none other than his father, Tommy Lapid.
Lapid, whose disarming and disarming style often led to piercing revelations, began with request his father why he had broken his campaign promises. “When I was a child you taught me that an honest man never breaks his promises. And you have promised not to serve as the left bank of a narrow right-wing government, and you serve as the left bank of a narrow right-wing government. You broke your promise.
Elder Lapid, a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor, apologized and added: “I made a compromise. Maybe I forgot to tell you, when you were a kid, that life sometimes brings you to compromise.
It’s a lesson Yair, whose mother is famous Israeli-born novelist Shulamit Lapid, has internalized well.
At the end of the interview, Lapid launched a series of fixed questions to his father, including “What is an Israeli?” “
– You, replied his father.