Prime Minister Bennett Sworn In
Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett was sworn in by the Knesset today, marking the end of a political crisis spanning more than two years and including four elections that ended in stalemates, two of which occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new coalition government, which has only a one-vote majority, is comprised of eight parties with a wide range of views including left- and right-leaning parties as well as, for the first time, an Arab party, which represents a fifth of Israel’s population.
Bennett’s speech at the Knesset was repeatedly interrupted by hecklers from the Likud party and the ultra-Orthodox parties; several members of Knesset (MKs) were removed from the chamber. Regardless, Bennett thanked Yair Lapid for his work to spearhead the uniting of these parties to form the coalition. Lapid is slated to become prime minister in two years. Both Bennett and Lapid claim that one of their goals is to bridge political divides and unite Israel under a government that will work hard for all its citizens. Naftali Bennett took time to thank Benjamin Netanyahu for all his hard work for Israel. Netanyahu will become opposition leader and does not plan to step down.
Finally, Bennett thanked the United States and President Biden for supporting Israel during the recent conflict. Prime Minister Bennett has many hurdles before him, especially maintaining a fragile peace with Hamas, preventing Iranian nuclear arms, and facing a war crimes probe from the International Criminal Court.
Please pray for Israel’s new leaders and the Knesset to serve and protect the people.
Who Is Naftali Bennett?
Naftali Bennett was born in Haifa in 1972 to American immigrants to Israel. When his family moved to Israel from California, they considered themselves secular. He and his family, over the years, have slowly become Modern Orthodox. He will be Israel’s first yarmulke-wearing prime minister. Throughout his political career, he has never been passionate about religious legislation and is frowned upon by the ultra-Orthodox parties who say he is “not Jewish enough.” For example, he shakes women’s hands, a practice not acceptable in ultra-Orthodox circles, and his wife does not cover her head.
He served in a very elite unit in the Israeli Defense Forces similar to the SEALS in the United States and then studied law at Hebrew University. After he received his degree, he founded a high-tech company and spent several years in New York City. He eventually oversaw the sale of the company for 145 million dollars in 2005. He repeated this with another start-up, which sold for 130 million dollars in 2009. He entered the political arena in the mid-2000s and quickly worked his way up, gaining confidence, leadership, and acceptance. He has served in many roles within the Likud (“the Consolidation”) party until starting his own party in 2019. That party, the New Right Party, merged with two other small parties and became Yamina (“Rightwards”) before the last election. Yamina won seven seats in the election and paved the way for Bennett now to serve as Israel’s thirty-sixth prime minister.
Please pray for Naftali Bennett as he is set to be Israel’s next prime minister.
Tourists Will Be Allowed Back into Israel
According to a recent announcement made by the Ministry of Tourism, tourists who are vaccinated will be allowed inside Israel beginning July 1. For fifteen months, Israel’s borders have been almost completely closed. Sealed borders have caused much heartache and trouble as weddings, births, and deaths still occurred. However, the Health Ministry has said that the announcement was made too soon, though July 1 is the goal.
Currently, details are still being worked out as to whether Israel will accept all vaccines and whether people will need to have a blood test that checks for antibodies to avoid quarantine. Right now, those who return from abroad without the vaccination will need to quarantine for ten to fourteen days or show proof of immunity. Israel is looking forward to getting its economy rolling again, and one of the major ways is through tourism.
Please pray for the leaders as they make decisions to protect Israel’s citizens and economy.
Gathering Together Again
Our workers in Israel are enjoying a return to in-person ministry and the happiness that comes with it. It is amazing to be able to chat face to face, pray together, laugh, and enjoy events again! We recently hosted a group of Holocaust survivors in our ministry center in the Ramat Gan area. They were even more ecstatic to be together. They laughed, sang, ate, and spent time with one another. Our staff shared the Word of God, and we all had a time of prayer and encouragement. It was a wonderful reunion. We are also looking forward to a Friday evening Sabbath dinner with young people. God is good!
Please pray for those not-yet believers who are in attendance to be touched by God’s love and care for them.