The vote was close: 60 in favor, 59 against (including one of Bennett’s own party members).
Under the coalition deal, right-wing Yamina party leader Bennett becomes Israel’s next prime minister for the next two years. In August 2023 Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid takes over for the following two years.
On the heels of his first G-7 summit and a visit with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle Sunday, President Joe Biden found time in his busy schedule today to call Israel’s new prime minister.
Biden congratulated Bennett and expressed his “unwavering commitment to Israel,” according to a statement from the White House. While the two leaders agreed to work together on regional security matters, including Iran’s influence of Hamas, the White House statement also read that Biden intends to work to “increase peace and prosperity for all Israelis and Palestinians.”
Biden also issued a written statement to the leaders of Israel’s new government:
“On behalf of the American people, I congratulate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and all the members of the new Israeli cabinet. I look forward to working with Prime Minister Bennett to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations.
Israel has no better friend than the United States. The bond that unites our people is evidence of our shared values and decades of close cooperation and as we continue to strengthen our partnership, the United States remains unwavering in its support for Israel’s security. My administration is fully committed to working with the new Israeli government to advance security, stability, and peace for Israelis, Palestinians, and people throughout the broader region,” the statement read.
In a speech to the Knesset, Bennett outlined several points. He said that renewing the nuclear deal with Iran is a mistake that will “once again lend legitimacy to one of the most discriminatory and violent regimes in the world.”
He also added that Israel will not allow Iran to be equipped with nuclear weapons: “Israel is not party to the agreement, and will maintain full freedom to act.”
On Gaza, he said he hopes the ceasefire in the south is maintained: “But if Hamas again chooses the path of violence against Israeli civilians, it will encounter a wall of iron.”
He also thanked President Joe Biden, for standing alongside Israel during the last operation in Gaza and for his longstanding commitment to the security of Israel: “My government will make an effort to deepen and nurture relations with our friends in both parties — bipartisan. If there are disputes, we will manage them with fundamental trust, and mutual respect,” he said.
Netanyahu led for 15 years altogether, continuously since 2009. Bennett was his protege, The Associated Press reported.
Bennett will lead a disparate coalition of parties from the political right, left and center. Netanyahu is slated to become the opposition leader, the AP reported.
ABC News’ Sarah E. Kolinovsky and Ben Gittleson contributed to this report.