Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Dawn of a new day’ in Israel after close of Netanyahu era

‘Dawn of a new day’ in Israel after close of Netanyahu era

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Israelis celebrate the passing of a Knesset vote confirming a new coalition government during a rally in coastal city of Tel Aviv on Sunday. AFP

‘Dawn of a new day’ in Israel after close of Netanyahu era

Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, got down to work on June 14 at the head of a precarious coalition government that faces stark challenges, after 12 years under right-wing Benjamin Netanyahu.

The watershed moment saw an ideologically disparate eight-party bloc, ranging from right to left to Arab Islamic conservatives, band together in parliament on June 13 to unseat the battling veteran known as Bibi by a wafer-thin margin of 60 votes to 59.

Within hours Bennett, a tech millionaire and former special forces commander, was stepping into his new role, speaking with US President Joe Biden and receiving a briefing from national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat.

And later on June 14, the 49-year-old’s first full day as Israel’s leader, he met his one-time ally Netanyahu as new ministers marked the beginning of Israel’s 36th government at the presidential residence.

In a statement, Biden said: “I look forward to working with Prime Minister Bennett to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations. Israel has no better friend than the United States.”

In response, Bennett tweeted: “I look forward to working with you to strengthen the ties between our two nations.”

But the potential for strain appeared on the horizon – Biden has encouraged the negotiation of a new nuclear deal with Iran, which Bennett promised in his speech to parliament he would staunchly oppose.

That vow was among the plans Bennett laid out that could be heard over rancorous jeers and shouts of “liar” and “criminal” from the Knesset (Israel’s unicameral parliament), where many right-wing members are furious he joined forces with coalition architect Yair Lapid, a centrist.

Lapid, a 57-year-old former television presenter, is set to take over the premiership after two years serving as foreign minister – if the fragile coalition manages to hold onto power that long.

After four inconclusive elections in under two years, Bennett said the “time has come for different leaders, from all parts of the population, to stop, to stop this madness”.

Whether the bloc manages to keep power was an afterthought for many Israelis on the night of June 13, with thousands clamouring into the streets to celebrate Bibi’s demise.

During his record-long tenure, Netanyahu became practically synonymous with Israeli politics, and for some young people the only leader they had known.

“This morning is the dawn of a new day,” said Ben Caspit, a Netanyahu biographer, in a column published in the Israeli outlets Maariv and Walla.

“It is a morning of hard, sometimes Sisyphean work, to rebuild the ruins. Netanyahu and Bibi-ism were not defeated by the left or by the right, but by sanity, or at least by the yearning for sanity,” said Caspit.

After meeting his successor on June 14, Netanyahu spoke with opposition party leaders.

“We have a strong opposition” determined “to bring down this dangerous left-wing government, this scam government that will fall quickly”, he said.

“The only thing that unites them is hatred, rejection and thirst for power,” said the hawkish veteran who is mired in a legal battle involving corruption charges, which he denies but that could see him imprisoned.

On June 15, Israel’s new government was due to face what could already be its first test – a nationalist “March of the Flags”, which had been scrapped a week prior because of its route through flashpoint zones of annexed east Jerusalem, was expected to proceed.

The risk of unrest has been exacerbated as far-right figures denounce restrictions meant to avoid scuffles in Jerusalem’s Old City, with police urging marchers to avoid tense areas.

The Knesset approval of a new government comes at a time of simmering tensions with the Palestinians, and just a month after an 11-day war between Israel and the Hamas militants who rule the Gaza Strip.

Leaders of the blockaded coastal enclave have said political developments in Israel don’t “change the nature of our relationship”.

“It’s still a colonising and occupying power that we must resist,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

The West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) lauded Netanyahu’s departure, but lashed out at the new government.

Netanyahu’s ousting closes the chapter on one of the “worst periods in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, said PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, even as he dismissed the new Israeli government as being as “bad” as the previous one.

Israel’s arch-foe Iran also dismissed the significance of the change of government.

“I don’t think that the policy of the occupation regime in Jerusalem will change with the arrival of this person or the departure of that person,” said foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh.

On the streets of Tel Aviv, there was optimism about the new government.

“There is a sense of renewal in the air … what used to be is over now and a new door is being opened,” Veren, a resident of Ramat Gan, told AFP.

But others said they would not vote for Bennett again after he joined forces with rivals. “I voted for him and he stole my vote. I feel cheated,” said Yossi.


  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Bosba: The first Khmer woman composer from UK’s Cambridge

    Bosba Panh is just 25 years old, but she’s already accomplished some impressive milestones for herself and the Kingdom. On July 24, she graduated with a Master’s degree from the University of Cambridge as the first Khmer woman composer and Khmer music graduate ever at

  • ‘Golden’ Angkor Wat likely due to natural phenomenon: ANA

    Pictures and video clips of the Angkor Wat temple, its spires seemingly coated in gold, have been shared tens of thousands of times on social media, prompting a sense of wonder among those who have seen them. Hong Sam Ath, who took the pictures and

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Koh Slaket studio resort brings culture with style

    Davitra (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s multi-million-dollar 13ha Koh Slaket studio-cum-resort just east of the capital was inaugurated in the first phase on August 6, providing national and international tourists with a new travel option and job opportunities for locals. The man-made cultural and scenic lakefront getaway