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Netanyahu’s new hardline Israeli gov’t sworn in

Benjamin Netanyahu

Jerusalem, Israel | Xinhua | Benjamin Netanyahu, the longest-serving Israeli leader, returned to power on Thursday as the country’s prime minister at the helm of an extreme-right coalition.

In an official inauguration ceremony at the Israeli parliament, lawmakers voted by 63-54 in favor of approving the new government.

The new government is made up of an alliance of Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party, the pro-settler Religious Zionism which calls for annexation of the occupied West Bank, the Jewish Power party whose leader was convicted of supporting “Jewish terrorism and inciting racism,” and the Noam party, an extreme-right party that opposes LGBTQ rights, as well as Shas and United Torah Judaism, two ultra-Orthodox parties.

It is the most rightist government in Israel’s history.

“I hear the constant cries of the opposition about the end of the country and democracy,” but “we will act to make Israel a strong and thriving global power,” Netanyahu told the parliament ahead of the official swearing-in.

Outside the parliament building, hundreds were rallying and protesting against the government, which vowed ahead of its inauguration to expand settlements in the occupied West Bank, implement far-reaching reforms of the judicial system, allocate massive subsidies to its hardline religious allies and pass anti-LGBTQ legislation.

Before the recent elections, Netanyahu’s allies pledged to pass legislation that will cancel his ongoing trial over charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Netanyahu, who is leading his sixth government, served as Israel’s prime minister from 1996 to 1999 and again from 2009 to 2021 before being ousted in June 2021 by a centrist coalition formed by Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett.

He was re-elected on Nov. 1 in the fifth parliamentary elections held in the country in fewer than four years as no candidate had won enough votes to form a majority coalition in previous elections, causing a lingering political crisis.

Netanyahu’s bloc won a majority of 64 seats in the 120-seat parliament.

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