New Government Set to Replace Netanyahu on Sunday

General view of an empty avenue outside the Knesset. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Barring any unexpected last-minute development, the new government of Yamina leader Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid will pass a vote of confidence at the Knesset on Sunday night and Bennett will be sworn in as Israel’s 13th prime minister, replacing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu would leave office after more than 12 straight years in power and a total of 15 years as prime minister.

The special Knesset session will begin with Bennett introducing his cabinet and presenting the government’s guidelines. Lapid will speak next, followed by Netanyahu and representatives of the 13 factions in the Knesset. There will then be a vote on replacing Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin (Likud) with MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) and then the vote of confidence in the new government.

If the vote passes, Bennett and Lapid would be sworn in as prime minister for each of the two halves of their term, followed by the other ministers. The first meeting of the new government would take place late Sunday night and the ceremonial photo of the new government would take place at the President’s Residence on Monday.

Lapid will serve as foreign minister in the new cabinet, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz as defense minister, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman as finance minister, New Hope chairman Gideon Sa’ar as justice minister, Labor head Merav Michaeli as transportation minister and the health minister will be Meretz chairman Nitzan Horowitz.

Final appointments for portfolios were ministerial posts that were officially announced on Motzoei Shabbos included former MK Nachman Shai (Labor) as Diaspora affairs minister, Orit Farkash-Hacohen (Blue and White) as science and technology minister, Meretz MK Yair Golan as head of the Knesset Aliyah, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee and Labor MK Gilad Kariv as head of the Knesset Law and Constitution Committee.

Lapid completed the process of signing coalition agreements with the eight parties that will be part of the new coalition on Friday.

Whether the new coalition would pass a bill that would prevent Netanyahu from running again remains undecided. Coalition parties decided to back term limits, but did not decide their extent or whether Netanyahu would be included.

All agreements were successfully reached by Friday’s 4 p.m. deadline.