Vote on Unity Government:
Bennett thanks Netanyahu, rightist MKs jeer

Right-wing lawmakers shout down Naftali Bennett as Knesset prepares to vote on national unity government.

Hezki Baruch , | updated: 4:45 PM

מהומה במליאה
מהומה במליאה
צילום: חזקי ברוך

The Knesset convened for a special session Sunday afternoon to vote on the national unity government proposed by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid.

The session began at 4:00 p.m. Sunday, with prime minister-designate Naftali Bennett addressing the Knesset plenum before the legislature votes on the planned government, which, if approved, will become the 36th Government of Israel.

Right-wing and haredi lawmakers jeered and attempted to shout down Bennett as he spoke, with several rightist MKs, including Shlomo Karhi and May Golan, being ejected from the plenum for repeatedly interrupting Bennett’s address.

At the beginning of his speech, Bennett thanked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his service as premier.

“Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for your service over the years and your accomplishments for the State of Israel. As Prime Minister, you worked for many years to strengthen the country and its security.”

Bennett compared his critics on the Right to Second Temple-era zealots, and said he was “proud to sit with people who have very different opinions” from his own.

"It is time for leaders of the nation to say, 'Stop, stop this madness.' Even if you are not in the government, we will look after your voters."

“The government that will be formed represents many Israelis, from Efrat to Tel Aviv.”

“The new government will pursue practical solutions. After two and a half years of paralysis, we will remove obstacles and make progress."

"Here are just a few things the government will promote immediately. We will take responsibility for the education of the children of Israel from birth...we will add daycare centers to the Education Ministry."

"For years we've talked about dropping the age of exemption for haredi youths. Now we'll do it, dropping the age from 24 to 21."

Bennett also vowed to shutter multiple ministries established in recent years, including the Water Ministry.

"Justice Minister-designate Gideon Sa'ar will return balance between the judiciary and the legislature, including splitting the role of the Attorney General."

The prime minister-designate also alluded to efforts to combat illegal Arab construction in Area C of Judea and Samaria, vowing to promote Israel's "national interest" in the area.

"We will guarantee the national interest in Area C."

"We understand the need and distress of the Arab population," Bennett continued, promising improvements for the Arab sector, in particular the Bedouin population of southern Israel, pointing to planned infrastructure works for the Negev.

"I also want to appeal to the haredi public, even though the haredi lawmakers did not choose to join our government - which is their right. Nevertheless, we will work on your behalf, to solve problems which have developed in the haredi sector, we will respect Torah scholars."

"We will improve the housing crisis which has plagued the haredi sector. The construction rate simply has not kept up with the growth rate."

“The government will also deal with the biggest threat, the Iran nuclear project, which is at a critical state.”

"The resumption of the deal with Iran is a mistake, a mistake which will once again give legitimacy to one of the most violent and dangerous regimes in the world."

Turning to the Gaza front, Bennett vowed an 'iron wall' against any new escalations by Hamas.

"If Hamas chooses violence against Israel, it will encounter an iron wall."

Bennett thanked President Joe Biden for his "forthright position" during last month's conflict with the Gaza Strip, and "his years of support" for Israel. He added that the new government will pursue strong relations with both the Republican and Democratic parties in the US.

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