Middle east

Israel Swears In New Knesset Led by Netanyahu’s Right-Wing Coalition

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, center, Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, left, far-right Israeli lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich and leaders of all Israel’s political parties pose for a group photo after the swearing-in ceremony for Israeli lawmakers at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Israeli lawmakers were sworn in at the Knesset, on Tuesday, following national elections earlier this month.For 18 months, a diverse coalition of parties held power in Israel with the singular goal of keeping Benjamin Netanyahu out of the prime minister’s office. However, in the latest election earlier this month, voters put Likud back in power, forcing Yair Lapid out of office and into the opposition once more.The 120 lawmakers in the Knesset, Israel’s unicameral parliament, were sworn in on Tuesday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition takes power, composed of an array of right-wing parties.The November 3 election was the fifth in four years in Israel, the result of political deadlock that tore Lapid’s cross-spectrum political alliance apart.In his outgoing speech on Tuesday, Lapid told the new lawmakers that it was necessary to drop their acerbic dispositions and come together civilly.“We need the 25th Knesset to be a place of debate about opinions and thoughts, not a place whose whole essence is an exchange of insults,” Lapid said. “We need it to be the place that the citizens of Israel look up to, not the place where the citizens of Israel are ashamed and ashamed of its representatives.”Left-wing parties lost big in the November vote, and the right-wing coalition formed by Netanyahu includes Otzma Yehudit (Strength for Israel) and its leader, Itamar Ben-Gvir, widely described as adhering to the ideology of the anti-Arab ideologue Meir Kahane. Ben-Gvir has been given the Public Security Ministry portfolio in the new government, and pledged on Tuesday to “teach our enemies a lesson.”“If we enter into the Public Security Ministry, we will, with God’s help, do everything to fight terror attacks, we’ll do everything to return deterrence to the State of Israel, we’ll do everything to back up police officers and soldiers, we’ll do everything to teach our enemies a lesson, that it’s not possible to mess with Israel,” he said.Israeli President Isaac Herzog also spoke, condemning violence in the West Bank town of Ariel that killed three Israelis that morning and injured several others. However, he also called on the newly empowered right-wing coalition not to let its zeal for security undermine the rights of minority groups, including Palestinians and the LGBTQ community, which have both been targets of parties in Netanyahu’s coalition.“There are also communities, and especially minorities, who are fearful that their needs will not be on the agenda,” he said. “You, the public’s elected representatives, must give this your consideration and keep them in your sights, too.”Roughly 1.9 million Palestinian Arabs live inside Israel’s borders, and another 2.1 million Arabs in the West Bank and 1.8 million who live in the Gaza Strip, meaning some 5.8 million Arabs live under some form of Israeli rule. Israel’s military control over the West Bank and blockade of Gaza have both been denounced by the United Nations as illegal and harmful to the rights of Palestinians.Ahamad Tibi, leader of the Palestinian Ta’al party and one of just 10 Arab delegates to the Knesset, denounced the anti-Arab politics of Ben-Gvir and his running mate, Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich, saying that with their entry into the ruling coalition, “Kahanism and fascism have become official.”“We’ll get over the fascism of Smotrich and Ben Gvir, it’s not just an Arab problem, it’s mostly a Jewish problem,” Tibi said. However, he added that “Any attempt to harm or change the status quo in the mosque or any meter of the plaza will ignite” the Middle East. Ben-Gvir has publicly called for destroying the Muslim shrines atop the Temple Mount, which include Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Previous Jewish incursions at the site have triggered widespread violence, including an 11-day war between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.


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