From the left, Avigdor Lieberman, Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid and Israel's new prime minister Naftali Bennett during their first cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Sunday, June 13, 2021.
( Ariel Schalit
Melissa Harris-Perry: I'm Melissa Harris-Perry, in for Tanzina and this is The Takeaway. On Sunday, Israel's parliament officially ousted Benjamin Netanyahu, and in his 12 year tenure as the country's prime minister. Taking his place, his far-right politician, Naftali Bennett.
Naftali Bennett: I, Naftali Bennett son of Jim Yaacov of blessed memory, [inaudible 00:00:24], may she have a long life, commit as the Prime Minister and as the future alternate Prime Minister to maintain allegiance to the State of Israel and to its goals.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Bennett has described himself as quote, 'more right wing than Netanyahu,' but his coalition government includes members of Center's party, as well as the first Arab party to join an Israeli majority coalition. While it may be hard to see how this widely divergent coalition can effectively govern, it's pretty clear the Biden administration is hoping they'll succeed.
Around two hours after Bennett became prime minister, President Biden called to congratulate him. That's a shock contrast to the roughly two months it took Biden to call Netanyahu after being sworn in back in January. For more on this, I'm joined by Noga Tarnopolsky. She's a freelance reporter based in Israel, who writes for the Los Angeles Times and the Daily Beast. Noga, so great to have you back on the show.
Noga Tarnopolsky: Thank you. It's a pleasure.
Melissa Harris-Perry: What should people in the US know about Israel's new governing coalition?
Noga Tarnopolsky: It's being generally described as a patchwork and a nonsensical government, because it really does go from the strong left of the Israeli political arena, all the way to the Islamic Movement Party that you mentioned, through pretty nationalists mainstream parties. I have to say, I think they have a shot. I think we should not underestimate the extent to which the Israeli public was exhausted by the last few years of Netanyahu. Also, the extent to which these eight leaders, the eight party leaders were genuinely fearful for Israel's future, if Netanyahu was not removed. By that, I don't mean disliked him personally. They have a strong sense now that their ministries and the institutions of the state need rebuilding, so that could become a national project.
Melissa Harris-Perry: What do you make of President Biden calling Bennett so quickly, as compared to the time it took him to speak with Netanyahu?
Noga Tarnopolsky: I think the Biden Administration pretty evidently is breathing a sigh of relief. Netanyahu is a strange political character because when he began in office 12 years ago, he was lauded as almost American. He has a degree from MIT, speaks pretty much flawless English. Some people say his English is better than his Hebrew even, and he brought a kind of American style of campaigning to Israel, American style of branding as a politician and yet in the last few years, as he's gotten embroiled in his trial, he's on trial for corruption charges. As he did this big swing between being extremely aggressive against President Obama and then being, I would say, extremely friendly with President Trump. He was President Trump's closest international ally, it's as if something got unbalanced in the relationship and the Biden administration was taking a cautious approach.
Melissa Harris-Perry: In this moment with Bennett, with his hard line views on Iran and on the two-state solution with Palestinians, is this going to make it hard for the Biden Administration, despite the fact there may be a sigh of relief about no longer working with Netanyahu.
Noga Tarnopolsky: It could and I think we really are just going to have to wait and see on that.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Noga Tarnopolsky is a freelance reporter based in Israel. She writes for the Los Angeles Times and the Daily Beast. Noga, thanks so much.
Noga Tarnopolsky: My pleasure.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Noga also has an opinion piece on Israel's new Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, that is in the New York Times today, check it out.
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