Israel’s New Government Sworn in During Special Knesset Session
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Israeli President Isaac Herzog and members of the new Israeli government pose for a traditional photo at the President's house on Dec. 29, 2022 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Israel’s New Government Sworn in During Special Knesset Session

Israel’s new government, the 37th, and the sixth headed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, was sworn in on Thursday afternoon after several hours of debate. The government was approved by a vote of 63 to 54 after it voted to approve the new Knesset speaker, Likud’s Amir Ohana, the first openly gay minister. Netanyahu’s speech introducing his new government ministers was punctuated by raucous shouting from the opposition.

Following the swearing-in, Netanyahu and outgoing prime minister Yair Lapid met for about 45 minutes, eschewing photos of the meeting, though they skipped the traditional handover of power ceremony. Similarly, Netanyahu had refused to hold such a ceremony for Naftali Bennett when he took over as prime minister a year and a half ago. Netanyahu also met with his new government for a toast. A note reading “Lapid – 2024” on official prime ministerial letterhead was found left on the prime minister’s desk for Netanyahu, according to reports. It is reminiscent of the handwritten letter reading “Be right back!” that was left for Bennett on the desk of the Prime Minister’s Office when he took over 18 months ago.

On Thursday evening, the new ministers gathered at the official residence of President Isaac Herzog for the traditional photo of the new government.

“I look forward to working with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has been my friend for decades, to jointly address the many challenges and opportunities facing Israel and the Middle East region, including threats from Iran,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement issued immediately after the swearing in of the new Israeli government.

“The United States is working to promote a region that’s increasingly integrated, prosperous, and secure, with benefits for all of its people. From the start of my administration, we have worked with partners to promote this more hopeful vision of a region at peace, including between Israelis and Palestinians. We aim to continue this important work with Israel’s new government under Prime Minister Netanyahu’s leadership. And as we have throughout my administration, the United States will continue to support the two-state solution and to oppose policies that endanger its viability or contradict our mutual interests and values,” Biden also said.

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