After a historic run as Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu has been ousted by the Israeli Parliament.
The Knesset confirmed Naftali Bennett as the new Prime Minister in a vote of 60-59, making it as close a possible.
A narrow majority coalition of parties has replaced Netanyahu for the first time in 12 years.
Bennet, who was once an ally of Netanyahu, will now preside over the fragile coalition, which consists of eight ideologically different parties.
Netanyahu has vowed that he is not done with the political stage, saying:
“If it is destined for us to be in the opposition, we will do it with our backs straight until we topple this dangerous government and return to lead the country.”
The New York Post has the breaking news:
Benjamin Netanyahu, the longest serving Israeli leader, was ousted as prime minister on Sunday after the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, voted to form a new government made up of a coalition of opposition groups pledging to heal caustic divisions caused by Netanyahu’s 12-year rule.
Netanyahu had failed to form a government after a March 23 election — the fourth in two years — and could not block the power-sharing agreement between the groups, headed by his former defense minister Naftali Bennett and opposition leader Yair Lapid.
The Associated Press has more on the shift of power in Israel:
Israel’s parliament on Sunday narrowly approved a new coalition government, ending the historic 12-year rule of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and sending the polarizing leader into the opposition.
Naftali Bennett, a former ally of Netanyahu turned rival, became prime minister after the 60-59 vote. Promising to try to heal a divided nation, Bennett will preside over a diverse and fragile coalition comprised of eight parties with deep ideological differences.
But the 71-year-old Netanyahu made clear he has no intention of exiting the political stage. “If it is destined for us to be in the opposition, we will do it with our backs straight until we topple this dangerous government and return to lead the country,” he said.
The vote, capping a stormy parliamentary session, ended a two-year cycle of political paralysis in which the country held four deadlocked elections. Those votes focused largely on Netanyahu’s divisive rule and his fitness to remain in office while on trial for corruption charges.
To his supporters, Netanyahu is a global statesman uniquely capable of leading the country through its many security challenges.
But to his critics, he has become a polarizing and autocratic leader who used divide-and-rule tactics to aggravate the many rifts in Israeli society. Those include tensions between Jews and Arabs, and within the Jewish majority between his religious and nationalist base and his more secular and dovish opponents.
Outside the Knesset, hundreds of protesters watching the vote on a large screen erupted into applause when the new government was approved. Thousands of people, many waving Israeli flags, gathered in central Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to celebrate.
President Joe Biden quickly congratulated the new government.
“I look forward to working with Prime Minister Bennett to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations,” he said in a statement after a G-7 meeting in England wrapped up. He said his administration is fully committed to working with the new government “to advance security, stability, and peace for Israelis, Palestinians, and people throughout the broader region.”
Bennett tweeted: “Thank you Mr. President! I look forward to working with you to strengthen the ties between our two nations.”
Much of the opposition to Netanyahu was personal. Three of the eight parties in the new government, including Bennett’s Yamina, are headed by former Netanyahu allies who share his hard-line ideology but had deep personal disputes with him.
Bennett, 49, is a former chief of staff to Netanyahu whose small party is popular with religious Jews and West Bank settlers. As he addressed the raucous debate, he was repeatedly heckled and shouted down by Netanyahu’s supporters accusing him of betrayal.
Bennett, an observant Jew, noted that the ancient Jewish people twice lost their homeland in biblical times due to bitter infighting.
“This time, at the decisive moment, we have taken responsibility,” he said. “To continue on in this way -- more elections, more hatred, more vitriolic posts on Facebook -- is just not an option. Therefore we stopped the train, a moment before it barreled into the abyss.”
Bennett, a millionaire former high-tech entrepreneur, faces a tough test maintaining an unwieldy coalition of parties from the political right, left and center.