Naftali Bennett becomes new Israel PM
New PM Naftali Bennett is the head of a small ultranationalist party. –File photo
Israeli parliament Sunday chose the new premier on Sunday putting an end to Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year rule, 24NewsHD TV channel reported.
The head of a small ultranationalist party, Naftali Bennett, took over as the new premier. Netanyahu has been battling an ongoing trial on charges of corruption. However, he dismisses as a conspiracy. Around 2,000 protesters rallied outside the 71-year-old's official residence to celebrate what they believe will be his departure from office, AFP reported.
"For us, this is a big night and tomorrow will be even a bigger day. I am almost crying. We fought peacefully for this (Netanyahu's departure) and the day has come," said protester Ofir Robinski. A fragile eight-party alliance, ranging from the right-wing Jewish nationalist Yamina party to Arab lawmakers, was early this month cobbled together by centrist politician Yair Lapid.
On Friday, all coalition agreements had been signed and submitted to the Knesset secretariat, Yamina announced, a moment party leader Naftali Bennett said brought "to an end two and a half years of political crisis".
But the ever-combative Netanyahu has tried to peel off defectors that would deprive the nascent coalition of its wafer thin legislative majority.
Sunday’s crucial Knesset session openned at 4:00pm local time (1300 GMT), with Bennett, Lapid and Netanyahu all set to speak before the vote. Netanyahu has heaped pressure on his former right-wing allies to defect from the fledgling coalition while attacking the legitimacy of the Bennett-Lapid partnership.
He has accused Bennett of "fraud" for siding with rivals, and angry rallies by the premier's Likud party supporters have resulted in security being bolstered for some lawmakers.