Naftali Bennett, leader of the right-wing Yamina (To the Right) party, took office as Israel’s new prime minister on Sunday evening, sacking Benjamin Netanyahu from the opposition ranks after a record-breaking twelve-year reign. The inauguration of Naftali Bennett followed a new coalition government led by Mr Bennett and the centrist Yesh Atid (There is a future) party leader Yair Lapid, which was approved by a vote of confidence from the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. In the first vote of confidence in parliament, 60 out of 120 MPs voted in favor of the new government, while 59 voted against it. In the television footage of the parliamentary session, M.M. Bennett and Lapid took their seats on a seat reserved for the ruling coalition, while Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, moved to seats reserved for the opposition. During the session, 27 ministers of the new coalition government were also sworn in. MM Bennett and Lapid will serve alternately as prime ministers, holding the position for two years each. Mr Bennett will exercise first, while Mr Lapid will be the “alternative prime minister” and foreign minister of Israel. The Knesset also elected Yes Atid MP Mickey Levy as speaker of parliament on Sunday evening. The new ruling coalition brings together eight parties, including the Islamist Ram Party, the first Arab faction to be included in a governing coalition in Israel. Thousands of Israelis gathered in central Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Sunday evening to celebrate the end of Mr Netanyahu’s regime. The formation of this new coalition government ended a long-standing political crisis in Israel, where four elections have been held in the past two years.
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