Nick Abbot 12am - 1am
New Israeli Government forms and ousts Benjamin Netanyahu as PM after 12 years
13 June 2021, 19:07 | Updated: 13 June 2021, 22:01
Benjamin Netanyahu will be sent into opposition after 12 years in office as a new government is sworn into power.
Naftali Bennett, the head of a small ultranationalist party, will take over as prime minister as part of a coalition of eight parties from across the political spectrum.
Israel's parliament, known as the Knesset, voted on the new government on Sunday, with politicians in the 120-member assembly voting by a 60-59 margin in favour of the new administration.
Boris Johnson tweeted on Sunday that it "is an exciting time for the UK and Israel to continue working together to advance peace and prosperity for all".
On behalf of the UK, I offer my congratulations to @naftalibennett and @yairlapid on forming a new government in Israel.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) June 13, 2021
As we emerge from COVID-19, this is an exciting time for the UK and Israel to continue working together to advance peace and prosperity for all.
The government plans to hold its first official meeting later in the evening but the new Israeli PM will face a challenge to maintain unity within the group, which includes controversial figures from the country's far-right and far-left.
The eight parties, including a small Arab faction, are united in their opposition to Mr Netanyahu and new elections but agree on little else following two years of scandal over corruption allegations.
They are likely to pursue a moderate agenda that seeks to reduce tensions with the Palestinians and maintain good relations with the US without launching any major initiatives.
Mr Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, remains the head of the largest party in parliament and is expected to vigorously oppose the new government.
Addressing the Knesset, he dismissed the coalition group and listed his achievement as PM.
The new government is promising a return to normalcy after a tumultuous two years that saw four elections, an 11-day Gaza war last month and a coronavirus outbreak that devastated the economy before it was largely brought under control by a successful vaccination campaign.
The driving force behind the coalition is Yair Lapid, a political centrist who will become prime minister in two years, if the government lasts that long.
Netanyahu's allies jeered and shouted over Mr Bennett's speech to the Israeli parliament before the vote, echoing supporters who formed angry protests outside the building and the homes of rival politicians.
The outgoing Israeli PM has previously lashed out at the new government and accused Mr Bennett of defrauding voters by running as a right-wing stalwart and then partnering with the left.
Israel's Shin Bet internal security service issued a rare public warning about incitement earlier this month, saying it could lead to violence.
Mr Netanyahu has condemned the incitement but noted that he has also been a target.
His place in Israeli history is secure, having served as prime minister for a total of 15 years - more than any other, including the country's founder, David Ben-Gurion.