On Monday, June 14, Israel awoke to the official start of the post-Netanyahu era. The new government consists of a remarkably diverse coalition of religious Jews, secular Jews and Israeli Arabs. This new government marks the first time in Israeli history that an Arab party has been included in the sitting government of the state of Israel. Stepping into the office of prime minister is Naftali Bennett (Netanyahu’s protégé and son of American immigrants) and alternate prime minister Yair Lapid. Bennett’s assumption of the premiership brings to an end Benjamin Netanyahu’s uninterrupted 12-year term of office, making him the longest-sitting continuous leader of the Israeli state.
Beyond his abilities as a gifted statesman, Netanyahu brought stability and remarkable growth to the Israeli economy, helping Israel gain the nickname of “Start-Up Nation.” In addition to facilitating a rapid reopening of the Israeli economy after COVID-19, he also focused on Israel’s security, successfully leading the state through three conflicts with Gaza, all while deterring other terrorist organizations in the region by withdrawing from the Iran deal.
As a diplomat, Netanyahu expanded Israel’s relations with key countries such as China and India, as well as the entire continent of Africa. He successfully negotiated four Israel-Arab peace deals, an unprecedented feat. Additionally, he supported the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem and the U.S. recognition of the Golan Heights; and allowed the expansion of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria to bring Jews back to the biblical heartland of their nation.
With countless successes, however, Netanyahu was still not without opposition. In the last year, Israel underwent nothing less than political turmoil, enduring four successive impromptu elections—all of which were seen by the Israeli public as a referendum on Netanyahu himself. Critics stated that he was too comfortable and no longer acting with the good of the nation at heart. They asserted that his staunch personality had stymied Israel’s prospects of peace with the Palestinians, and that his continuing in a place of power would prevent progress.
Thus ensued a year of tense elections with razor-thin margins resulting in three narrow victories for Netanyahu. Netanyahu’s winning streak came to an end when an unprecedented unity coalition was able to gain a majority in the Israeli Parliament and unseat him. Though the transition of power to Naftali Bennet is complete, Netanyahu has vowed to return. As always, we ask that you continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and that God’s will is done in Israel.