Israeli lawmakers officially voted to turn the keys over to a new government on Sunday, ending Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s record 12-year rule, CBS News reports.
Naftali Bennett, a tech millionaire and a far-right former ally of Netanyahu who turned on him after Netanyahu agreed to a ceasefire in Gaza last month, will take over as the country’s new prime minister in a deal struck by an unusual coalition of eight parties.
Under the deal, Bennett would serve as prime minister until 2023 and centrist leader Yair Lapid would serve from 2023 to 2025 -- if the coalition holds up.
The coalition was formed after four consecutive elections failed to award enough seats for a single party or existing coalition to take over the government.
Netanyahu, who railed against Bennett and echoed former President Donald Trump with allegations that the election was stolen, sat quietly as the Knesset, the country’s parliament, formally ousted him on Sunday by a 60-59 vote.
Biden welcomes new government:
President Joe Biden said in a statement that he looks “forward to working with Prime Minister Bennett to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations."
"Israel has no better friend than the United States. The bond that unites our people is evidence of our shared values and decades of close cooperation and as we continue to strengthen our partnership, the United States remains unwavering in its support for Israel's security," he said. "My administration is fully committed to working with the new Israeli government to advance security, stability, and peace for Israelis, Palestinians, and people throughout the broader region."
Netanyahu, who remains in parliament, has vowed to oppose the new coalition, though he is also facing trial on corruption charges.
The eight-party coalition, which includes a small Arab party for the first time in history, is expected to try to reduce tensions in Gaza and restore good relations with the US but is not expected to launch any major initiatives with a razor-thin margin.
Though the new government seeks to make nice with the Biden administration, Bennett on Sunday vowed to oppose Biden’s plan to reenter the Iran deal.
"Israel will not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons," Bennett said. "Israel will not be a party to the agreement and will continue to preserve full freedom of action."