Israel’s Prime Ministership changes hands

July 1, 2022 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and incoming Prime Minister Yair Lapid held a modest handover ceremony at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on Thursday, hours after the Knesset voted to dissolve itself and send Israel to the fifth round of elections in less than four years.

Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett                Photo: Haim Zac

Senior officials from the two’s bureaus and members of the Bennett and Lapid families attended the ceremony, without the presence of the media. Lapid was sworn in as alternate prime minister a year ago when the government was established.

An “orderly and in-depth” transition meeting was then held between Bennett and Lapid in which Bennett “outlined the main security and diplomatic issues of the State of Israel.”

Lapid, who will now serve as Israel’s 15th prime minister until the elections in November, will enter office officially on Thursday night at midnight.

An emotional Bennett wished Lapid that he guard the country well and “may God watch over you.”

He cautioned Lapid’s wife Lihi that “it is not easy to be the Prime Minister’s wife. But the stability is at home, the warmth is at home, the place that you are familiar with. Everyone will be there for you, without outside interests, without anything. This is the cornerstone for Yair’s success.”

He concluded by blessing Lapid “‘May God make you like Efraim and Menashe. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May he make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you. May He lift up His face to you and grant you peace.’ Good luck my brother.”

In response, Lapid remarked that “amazingly, my mother said the same blessing to me 25 minutes ago.”

He further noted that this was not “a farewell ceremony” for Bennett because “there is no intention to take leave of you.” Bennett announced Wednesday night that he was stepping away from politics and would not run in the upcoming elections.

Before the ceremony and after the vote at the Knesset, Lapid visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

“I went to Yad Vashem to assure my father that I will always keep Israel strong, that it will know how to defend herself and ensure the safety of its children,” Lapid said. His father, the late politician Tommy Lapid, was a Holocaust survivor.

Elections are slated for November 1, 2022, the fifth general election in Israel in the past three and a half years and only a little over 18 months since the last elections. The latest polls show that Benjamin Netanyahu has the best chance of establishing a government, but with a long campaign period of 124 days, much can change.

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