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IsBN: Chapter Of A Book On West Asia?

Putting an end to its 12-year-long political crisis, Israel recently got a new Government as outgoing Prime Minister Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu lost by a narrow margin! The 49-year-old Hard-Right Jewish Nationalist leader Naftali Bennett has replaced Bibi, thus, becoming the 13th Prime Minister of Israel. Bennett had served as Minister of Diaspora Affairs from 2013 to 2019, as Minister of Education from 2015 to 2019, and also as Minister of Defence from 2019 to 2020.

Naftali Bennett

Netanyahu, who has lost his popularity in recent times, received 59 votes on June 13 (2021); while his opposition camp secured 60 votes. Immediately after the voting, ecstatic Israelis descended onto Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square for celebrating the exit of the Crime Minister. People were holding posters, which read: ‘Bye Bye Bibi’.

After being voted out of power, the 71-year-old Netanyahu said: “If it’s our destiny to be in the opposition, we’ll do so with our heads high until we take down this bad government, and return to lead the country our way.” He also vowed that “the Israeli Opposition will have a strong and clear voice“. Meanwhile, Bennett promised to unite the Nation, stressing that his Government would “work for the sake of all the people“. He also said that his priorities would be reforms in education, health and cutting red tape.

Celebrations at Rabin Square

The new Government has ended an era dominated by the Likud Party and Netanyahu’s cult of personality. Experts believe that it would be very difficult for him to run the coalition. They are of the opinion that this National Union Coalition is expected to be the most complex political project of recent decades in Israel, comprising eight parties with a variety of ideological ramifications from Left-wing to Right-wing, as well as Arab formations. The new coalition, formed around Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid Party and Bennett’s pro-settler and Right-wing Yamina Party, also includes Left-wing groups, such as Meretz and Labour, Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue & White, Right-wing Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu and Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope, as well as Arab-led parties, like Mansour Abbas’ Ra’am and the Joint List, a premiere for Israeli Politics as Arab parties become part of the ruling coalition, officially.

IsBN: Israel’s Bibi Netanyahu

Negotiations on the formation of the coalition initially stalled immediately after the outbreak of violence between the Israeli Arabs and the Israeli Security Forces, followed by hostilities between Tel Aviv and the Palestinian Hamas Movement. Earlier, Bennett had said that if formed, this Government would not be able to deal with such a crisis, bringing back the possibility of Yamina negotiating with Netanyahu’s Likud Party. However, the same Yamina leader changed his mind once negotiations with Netanyahu failed. Bennett’s decision was most likely influenced by the impossibility of a Right-wing coalition formed around Likud-Yamina to get a majority, which would have led to the fifth National Election, which Bennett had promised his voters would not happen.

The coalition fashioned by the Opposition is basically a power-sharing alliance between Bennett and Lapid, with the former serving as Prime Minister for two years during which time Lapid will be the Israeli Foreign Minister with a Veto Power over the Government’s decisions, followed by Lapid to take over the Premiership for the next two years.

Israel-India Romance: Bibi & Modi

Meanwhile, the friendship between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Netanyahu is well known. According to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, Israel’s strategic and trade ties with India have reached new heights in the last seven years. After Bibi’s exit, Opposition parties in India have started saying that two of the three friends (Modi, Netanyahu and Donald Trump) have been ousted! Now, it is the Indian PM’s turn. It may be noted that PM Modi, too, has started losing his popularity. However, the Indian premier has congratulated Bennett, saying that he looked forward to meeting the Israeli PM and deepening bilateral strategic partnership as India and Israel would celebrate 30 years of the upgradation of diplomatic ties in 2022. At the same time, Modi sent a message to Netanyahu via Twitter, stating: “As you complete your successful tenure as the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, I convey my profound gratitude for your leadership and personal attention to India-Israel strategic partnership @netanyahu.

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