Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to parliament on Sunday, vowing he will return after a coalition of wildly disparate political parties from right, left, and center came together to oust him from power.
Netanyahu said in his speech that he will “continue the great mission of my life, ensuring the security of Israel.”
“If it is destined for us to be in the opposition, we will do it with our backs straight until we topple this dangerous government and return to lead the country in our way,” he said.
New Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of a small nationalist party, will take over. But he ran into some trouble when he tried to address parliament prior to Netanyahu’s speech.
- Bennett spoke before Netanyahu, but as he was trying to present his platform, allies of Netanyahu continuously interrupted him with shouts of “liar” and “fraud.”
- Bennett took a hard line on the Iran deal in his speech, saying it was a mistake in 2015 and remains one today. He also thanked Biden for his support for Israel, stressed that he wants good relations with both parties in Washington, and drew a contrast with Netanyahu by promising that any disagreements with Biden will be managed with “mutual trust and respect.”
- Bennett’s coalition partner, centrist Yair Lapid, forwent his opportunity to speak next, citing the interruptions during Bennett’s speech, which he said were a disgrace.
Bennett is in trouble already and he hasn’t even had dinner as prime minister.
As for Bibi, he made it clear that he doesn’t think Joe Biden is a friend of Israel.
- Netanyahu claimed that the Biden administration had asked him to keep their disagreements on Iran private, but that he refused to do so, valuing his hard line on Iran over smooth relations with the U.S.
- Netanyahu positioned himself as the only man standing between Iran and an arsenal of nuclear weapons, and claimed Iranians were celebrating his departure. He also compared Biden’s Iran policy to the refusal of the U.S. to bomb the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944.
- He also said he’d rejected U.S. demands to freeze settlement construction and opposed Biden’s plan to reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, which handled relations with the Palestinians before being shut down by Donald Trump. Again, he claimed Bennett lacked the stature or credibility to take similar stands.
Many observers believe the current hodgepodge of parties that make up the Israeli government will collapse in a matter of weeks or, at most, months. Most of the parties agree on nothing except that Netanyahu had to go. The power-sharing agreement between Bennett and Lapid is a little fuzzy and may lead to an early breach between the two, at which point, the coalition would collapse and new elections would be called.
Netanyahu’s problem is the politically motivated corruption charges that are pending against him, but he will be aided by the complete lack of cohesion of the majority and before the trial reaches a conclusion, he could find himself back in power.
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