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Naftali Bennett hails ‘new days’ for Israel as world leaders welcome incoming PM

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World leaders have congratulated Naftali Bennett after he was sworn in as Israel’s new prime minister, bringing to an end Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12 straight years in power.

Bennett, a far-right former settler leader, addressed his newly sworn-in cabinet late on Sunday night, saying the country was “at the outset of new days”. He added: “Citizens of Israel are all looking to us now, and the burden of proof is upon us.”

US president Joe Biden spoke to Bennett on Sunday, and “expressed his firm intent to deepen cooperation between the United States and Israel on the many challenges and opportunities facing the region”.

“The leaders agreed that they and their teams would consult closely on all matters related to regional security, including Iran,” the White House said.

An earlier statement said Biden looked forward to working with Bennett, adding: “Israel has no better friend than the United States.”

Bennet was sworn in on Sunday evening after opposition leader Yair Lapid, a centrist former TV news anchor, won a confidence vote in the Knesset by a razor-thin advantage of 60-59 seats. Under a power-sharing agreement, Bennett will hand the reins to Lapid after two years.

Bennett, 49, told the parliament before the vote that his government “represents all of Israel” and that the country, after four inconclusive elections in less than two years, had been thrown “into a maelstrom of hatred and in-fighting”.

“The time has come for different leaders, from all parts of the population, to stop, to stop this madness”, he said, to angry shouts of “liar” and “criminal” from right-wing opponents. Two were dragged out by security.

 

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