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Israel's 1st gov't not led by Netanyahu in 12 years begins work

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-06-14 22:04
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Head of Opposition Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel Prime minister Naftali Bennett shake hands following the vote on the new coalition at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem June 13, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

JERUSALEM - Israel's first government in 12 years not led by Benjamin Netanyahu began its work on Monday.

The country's new prime minister Naftali Bennett and his predecessor Netanyahu met on Monday afternoon for a transition meeting, Bennett's office said in a statement.

The formal handover ceremony that accompanies a change of prime ministers was not held. David Bitan, a lawmaker with Netanyahu's Likud party, told state-owned Kan news TV that Netanyahu would not hold the ceremony because he feels "cheated" by the establishment of the new government and "doesn't want to give even the slightest legitimacy to this matter".

Bennett, a nationalist and leader of the pro-settler Yamina party, and Yair Lapid, a centrist and leader of the Yesh Atid party, were sworn in on Sunday after the parliament narrowly approved their new coalition government.

Under a coalition agreement, Bennett and Lapid will rotate as prime ministers. Bennett will serve as prime minister for the first two-year term and Lapid as alternate prime minister and foreign minister before rotating for the latter two-year term.

On Monday morning, President Reuven Rivlin hosted Bennett, Lapid and the ministers at his official residence in Jerusalem for the official photo of the new government. Later, the government's 28 ministers entered their offices and handover ceremonies were held.

The establishment of the eight-party coalition government ousted Netanyahu, the Israeli longest-serving leader who is facing a criminal trial over corruption charges. It also ended a lingering political crisis that has seen four rounds of elections in two years.

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