Naftali Bennett sworn in as Israel’s new prime minister

New government was approved by a vote of 60-59 with one abstention.

By World Israel News Staff

Naftali Bennett was sworn in as Prime Minister of the State of Israel Sunday evening.

Change bloc MKs erupted in applause while Likud loyalists sat stone-faced as the Knesset vote results were officially announced.

The new government was approved by a vote of 60 MKs in favor, 59 opposed, with one abstention.

The vote followed four hours of speeches by party leaders and the election of Yesh Atid MK Mickey Levy as Speaker of the Knesset. After receiving the gavel, Levy presided over the long-awaited confidence vote.

Israel will now be governed by an eight-party coalition, the largest in Israeli history, with Yemina leader Naftali Bennett serving as prime minister and Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid as foreign minister. In two years, assuming the government lasts, Bennett and Lapid will switch posts.

Members of the new cabinet took their turns taking an oath of office. Key cabinet posts include Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White), Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu), Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar (New Hope), Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yemina), Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli (Labor), Public Security Minister Omer Barlev (Labor), Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahane (Yemina) and Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai (Labor).

Ra’am MK Saeed Alharomi from voting. He was reportedly under heavy pressure from Benjamin Netanyahu to vote against his party.

Joint List MK Ahmed Tibi joined his party in voting against the coalition, but initially absented himself from the plenum. Tibi and Osama Saadi intended to abstain to ensure the new government’s passage if it became clear that the Change bloc didn’t have enough votes to pass otherwise.

Bennett’s first Knesset speech as prime minister was drowned out by non-stop heckling afrom his opponents in the Likud, Shas, Religious Zionism, and United Torah Judaism parties.

Despite a fiery speech denouncing Bennett, and vowing to topple his government, outgoing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seen congratulating Bennett the new prime minister.