Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in for his third stint as Prime Minister of Israel Thursday following the country’s fifth election in less than four years.
Netanyahu is forming what experts say could be the most right-wing government in Israel’s history. His Likud Party formed a governing coalition with several ultranationalist, religious Zionist parties previously on the fringes of the Israeli political system.
BREAKING: Benjamin Netanyahu has taken the oath of office, becoming Israel’s ninth prime minister. pic.twitter.com/uYcO1FixhD
— Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) December 29, 2022
Likud Party officials are expected to fill the positions of foreign minister, defense minister and justice minister, but some members of the smaller, more conservative parties will take up other key posts. Perhaps most notable is Itamar Ben Gvir, who will serve as the government’s National Security Minister, a new position that will run police operations in Israel and parts of the West Bank.
Ben Gvir was convicted for inciting racism in 2007 and was a supporter of the Kahanist movement, which has been associated with U.S.-designated terrorists.
Other incoming officials who have faced pushback include Bezalel Smotrich, who leads the Religious Zionism party, and Aryeh Deri, leader of the Shas party. They are slated to serve as the Ministers of Finance and Interior and Health, respectively. (RELATED: UN Votes To Hold Annual Event Memorializing Israel’s Founding As A ‘Catastrophe’)
A group of more than 100 former Israeli diplomats sent a letter to Netanyahu this week warning that the policies he intends to implement will harm Israel’s foreign relations and “international standing.” The United States has reserved judgement, however, with the Biden administration congratulating Netanyahu on his victory and stating they’ll work with and evaluate the new cabinet officials in his government as they begin governing.
The new term as prime minister will be Netanyahu’s sixth in total. He’s already Israel’s longest-serving prime minister ever, having previously held the post from 1996 to 1999 and from 2009 to 2021.