Israeli Parliament swears in Netanyahu’s new Govt

Tel Aviv, Dec 30 (FN Agency) The Israeli parliament swore in Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister of a new government on Thursday following a debate that saw the opposition accuse his far-right cabinet of threatening democracy and ignoring the Arab minority. The Knesset met at 11:00 a.m. (09:00 GMT) for a festive sitting, attended by President Isaac Herzog and Supreme Court Justice Esther Hayut. It voted to elect Amir Ohana of Netanyahu’s Likud party as speaker before holding a vote of confidence in the new government. Of the 120 Knesset members, 63 supported the new government, formed by Likud and its ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox allies, while 54 opposed. Netanyahu and his ministers were then sworn in and signed the pledge of allegiance. “I… undertake as prime minister to maintain loyalty to the State of Israel and its laws, to faithfully fulfill my role as prime minister and to abide by the decisions of the Knesset,” Netanyahu said as he took the oath of office.

This is Netanyahu’s sixth term after he was ousted from power in June last year, ending his 12-year run as prime minister. His return to office became possible after his right-wing bloc won 64 seats in the November election, the fifth such vote in less than four years. Outgoing liberal Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who is now heading the largest parliamentary group that is not part of the new government, accused Netanyahu during the debate of undermining democracy by leading the country despite a trial on corruption charges against him. Mansour Abbas, the leader of the United Arab List, accused the new cabinet of shutting out minority voices. He said Netanyahu’s political agenda completely ignored the needs of the Palestinians, who make up a fifth of the Israeli population.