The Knesset narrowly passed a vote of confidence in Israel’s 36th government on Sunday night, June 13, making far-right Naftali Bennett the new prime minister, and removing Benjamin Netanyahu from the premiership after 12 consecutive years in power.
The so-called “change government” was approved with 60 of the Knesset’s 120 lawmakers in favor and 59 opposed. The basic law governing the approval of a government does not require the backing of 61 lawmakers, but rather a simple majority. All Joint List lawmakers opposed the new government while MK Said al-Harumi from Ra’am abstained.
In a speech addressing the Knesset plenum prior to the vote of confidence, Joint List Party leader MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) told the parliament that the new government being debated is a bad one, in which “ministers from the extremist right will hold many portfolios: Ayelet Shaked, Gideon Sa’ar, Avigdor Lieberman, Zeev Elkin and Oded Forer, for example”; this in addition to right-wing extremism of the new government’s prime minister.
Odeh said that the “Jewish-Arab partnership” formed by the entrance of the conservative Islamist Ra’am Party into the coalition was one predicated on harming Jerusalem, the Negev and Israel’s Arab citizens. “We are looking for a different partnership between Jews and Arabs;” Odeh said, “one based on peace, equality, democracy and social justice, values that cannot be advanced by this government.” Odeh repeated his warning about the right-wing ideologies of members of the new coalition. “This is not the child we were hoping for. This is a bad government,” he reiterated, but qualified his gloom, admitting that “Certainly this is a time for joy, but not for complacence. Today we’re being liberated from the ‘Yes Bibi – No Bibi’ doctrines.”
Before the vote of confidence in the new government, Yesh Atid MK Mickey Levy was elected as the new Speaker of the Knesset, replacing the Likud’s Yariv Levin, by winning in a contest for the important role against the other candidate, MK Yaakov Margi from Shas, by a vote of 67 to 52. All Joint List MKs voted for Mickey Levy.