Israel's Knesset to vote on new government, end Netanyahu's record reign

Israel's Knesset to vote on new government, end Netanyahu's record reign

13/6/2021 7:55:00 AM

Israel's Knesset to vote on new government, end Netanyahu's record reign

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year hold on power was set to end on Sunday when parliament votes on a new government, ushering in ...

AdvertisementOn the international stage, with his polished English and booming baritone voice, the telegenic Netanyahu has become the face of Israel. Serving in his first term as prime minister in the 1990s and since 2009 winning four more terms in succession, he has been a polarising figure, both abroad and at home.

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Often referred to by his nickname Bibi, Netanyahu is loved by his hard-core supporters and loathed by critics. His ongoing corruption trial, on charges he denies, has only deepened the chasm.His opponents have long reviled what they see as Netanyahu's divisive rhetoric, underhanded political tactics and subjection of state interests to his own political survival. Some have dubbed him 'Crime Minister' and have accused him of mishandling the coronavirus crisis and its economic fallout.

Celebrations by his opponents to mark the end of the Netanyahu era began late on Saturday outside his official residence in Jerusalem, the site of weekly protests against the right-wing leader for the past year, where a black banner stretched across a wall read:"Bye Bye, Bibi, Bye bye", and demonstrators sang, beat drums and danced.

AdvertisementProtesters take part in a weekly demonstration against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on potentially the last day of his premiership, near his official residence in Jerusalem Jun12, 2021. REUTERS/Ammar AwadBut for Netanyahu's large and loyal voter base, the departure of"King Bibi" as some call him, may be difficult to accept. His supporters are angered by what they see as the country turning its back on a leader dedicated to its security and a bulwark against international pressure for any steps that could lead to a Palestinian state, even as he promoted diplomatic deals with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.

READ: Israel faces more suspense as anti-Netanyahu bloc awaits confidence voteNone of those moves, however, nor the role he played in securing COVID-19 vaccines for the country's world-beating inoculation campaign, were enough to grant Netanyahu's Likud party enough votes to secure him a sixth term in office.

Bennett in particular has drawn anger from within the right-wing camp for breaking a campaign pledge by joining forces with Lapid. He has justified the move by saying another election, which would likely be called were no government formed, would have been a disaster for Israel.

Both he and Lapid have said they want to bridge political divides and unite Israelis under a government that will work hard for all its citizens.Their cabinet faces considerable diplomatic, security and financial challenges: 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.

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On top of that, their patchwork 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 combative head of the opposition.And no one is ruling out a Netanyahu comeback.

Read more: CNA »

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