Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition was formally sworn in on Thursday night, May 14, after a raucous Knesset session that saw constant heckling, along with accusations by opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) that the freshly inaugurated government was “a circus.” The Netanyahu government, formed after arduous negotiations following the March 17 elections, finally took office with the narrowest possible parliamentary majority almost two full months after the public went to the polls.
MK Odeh during his brief speech in the Knesset (Photo: Knesset Channel)
The Knesset vote confirming the new government passed by 61 to 59 — representing the balance of forces in the Knesset: Netanyahu’s five-party extreme-right coalition numbers 61 members (Likud, 30; Kulanu, 10; HaBayit HaYehudi 8; Shas, 7; and United Torah Judaism, 6), to the opposition’s 59 seats (Zionist Union, 24; Joint List, 13; Yesh Atid, 11; Yisrael Beytenu, 6; and Meretz, 5).
The prime minister’s brief speech was punctuated by catcalls from members of the Joint List, in what appeared to be a coordinated effort. At least three Knesset members were escorted out of the session and the remainder filed out a short while later. Al the very least, all Joint List Knesset members abandoned the plenum during Netanyahu’s speech. Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) said he could not wish the government well, since its success would spell disaster for the Jewish and the Arab populations. “A black flag of racism flies over this government,” he said in his brief speech.