Trump Ally Benjamin Netanyahu Announces He Will Step Down as Israeli Prime Minister Next Year
After several different elections, Israel has finally settled on a government, but the news means that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be leaving office next year – and his successor will be former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz.
The Knesset voted on Sunday by a 73-46.vote to set up a coalition government of Netanyahu and Gantz, who leads the Blue and White movement. Under this new coalition, Netanyahu will hand over the PM post to Gantz by November 17, 2021, meaning the staunch Trump ally’s days in power are numbered.
“I will abide by the agreement exactly as it is written,” Netanyahu informed reporters at the Knesset.
Netanyahu does not anticipate for there to be any problems between he and Gantz, whose official position is now Vice Prime Minister. Gantz served as commander for Operation Protective Edge, a military operation against Hamas on the Gaza Strip, working intimately Netanyahu on a mission they both considered to be a success.
“We decided to form a unity government and avoid a fourth election that would have caused divisiveness and would have wasted NIS 2 billion,” Netanyahu said. “The public wanted a unity government and will receive one.”
Netanyahu maintains that the new coalition government is committed to further annexation of the West Bank.
“The time has come to apply sovereignty to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria,” he said. “This won’t distance peace. It will bring it closer. These settlements will be part of Israel in any scenario.”
Netanyahu previously defeated Gantz in a fiercely contested election earlier this year:
Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party has won the third of its election victories in recent memory, eeking out a come-from-behind victory over Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party.
Israel has a parliamentary system that allows multiple successive elections at the whim of its unicameral legislature, the Knesset. The victory of Netanyahu’s Party is its third in less than a year.
In a victory speech, Netanyahu touted his nation’s strong relationship with foreign leaders, such as Donald Trump. He also discussed an improvement in relations Israel has had with surrounding Islamic countries, a development brought about by regional opposition to Shia Iran.
The succession of elections in Israel had been enabled by ongoing legal proceedings against Netanyahu on corruption allegations. The constant atmosphere of political campaigning in the Middle Eastern country has proved enough to alienate some of the nation’s citizens from its unconventional and unstable parliamentary system.
It had been thought the third election in less than a year would finally result in Netanyahu’s retirement, with the longtime Prime Minister having served in office since 2009. Polling had showed Likud trailing Blue and White- a center-left party- almost throughout the entirety of the campaign season, only overtaking Benny Gantz’s party days before the election.
Netanyahu’s imminent departure as Prime Minister may not be good news for President Donald Trump, who has considered him one of his biggest allies on the world stage since his election.