New Israeli Government Wins Majority Vote, Ending Netanyahu Tenure

By Reuters
June 13, 2021 Updated: June 15, 2021

JERUSALEM—Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year run as Israel’s prime minister ended on June 13 with parliament approving a new “government of change” led by Naftali Bennett.

Heading into opposition, Netanyahu, 71, the most dominant Israeli politician of his generation, pledged he would soon return to power.

In a raucous session in which Netanyahu’s supporters shouted “shame” and “liar” at Bennett, 49, parliament voted confidence in his new administration by a razor-thin 60–59 majority.

Israel's designated new prime minister, Naftali Bennett
Israel’s designated new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, speaks during a Knesset session in Jerusalem on June 13, 2021. (Ariel Schali/AP Photo)

His alliance includes for the first time in Israel’s history a party that represents its 21 percent Arab minority.

Israel’s longest-serving leader, Netanyahu was prime minister since 2009, after a first term from 1996 to 1999. But he was weakened by his repeated failure to clinch victory in the polls since 2019 and by an ongoing corruption trial, in which he has denied any wrongdoing.

Under a coalition deal, Bennett will be replaced as prime minister by Yair Lapid, 57, in 2023.

The new government, formed after an inconclusive March 23 election, plans largely to avoid sweeping moves on hot-button international issues such as policy toward the Palestinians, and to focus on domestic reforms.