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(Photo Credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Excerpts, Address of Naftali Bennett, Incoming Israeli Prime Minister, to the Israeli K'nesset, June 13, 2021

(Excerpted and reprinted from The Jerusalem Post)

...Honored ladies and gentlemen, this is a special moment. The moment in which the baton of leading the people and the country passes – as in a relay race – to the next generation. It a sacred endowment.

The State of Israel is not ‘just another country’. It is the dream of generations of Jews – from Marrakesh to Budapest, from Bagdad to San Francisco – a dream we merited to see realized every day before our very eyes. Each generation has its own challenges, and out of each generation comes the leaders that can overcome them.

The external challenges we face are great: the Iranian nuclear project, which is moving towards a crucial point; the ongoing war on terror; Israel's image in the world and the unfair treatment it receives in international institutions – these are all sizable and complex tasks.

At this time, we are also facing an internal challenge. The ongoing rift in the nation, as we see in these very moments, which continues to rip apart the seams that hold us together, and has thrown us – one election after another – into a maelstrom of hatred and in-fighting.

Such quarrels, between the people who are supposed to be running the country, led to paralysis. One who quarrels, cannot function.

And so Israel ceased to be managed: a lack of governance in the Negev and loss of the South for 12 years, riots in mixed cities, the lack of state budget, the terrible disaster in Meron...

...Friends, as the Jewish people tend to be people with opinions… and as we see here, the Parliament of the Jewish state, is a parliament of opinions, and anyone who has ever seen a pair of students studying Talmud together, or a heated debate about a product in the office corridors of an Israeli start-up, understands the force for good of “disputes for the sake of Heaven”. But there are points in Jewish history in which the disagreements between us have gone out of control, in which they were no longer “disputes for the sake of Heaven”, times in which they threatened us, and all that we have built with our sweat and blood.

Twice in history, we have lost our national home precisely because the leaders of the generation were not able to sit with one and another and compromise. Each was right, yet with all their being right, they burnt the house down on top of us. I am proud of the ability to sit together with people with very different views from my own.

This time, at the decisive moment, we have taken responsibility. We understood that we have to safeguard our home. To continue on in this way – more elections, more hatred, more vitriolic posts on Facebook – is just not an option. Therefore, we stopped the train, a moment before it barreled into the abyss. And I want to thank my friend, Foreign Minister-designate, MK Yair Lapid, who showed national responsibility, political generosity, and without whom we would not be here today.

The time has come for different leaders, from all parts of the people, to stop, to stop this madness.

The government that will be formed represents many of Israel’s citizens: from Ofra to Tel Aviv, from Rahat to Kiryat Shmona. Precisely here lies the opportunity. Our principle is, we will sit together, and we will forge forward on that which we agree – and there is much we agree on, transport, education and so on, and what separates us we will leave to the side.

To the citizens of Israel I say: this is a sensitive moment, of political change. I call on all, to demonstrate maturity and restraint.

The new government will be a government which strives for real, practical solutions, to the problems faced by the country and its citizens. The work-plan which we are presenting today is the most detailed in years. We have come to work. To remove the barriers, to free up the jams, and to turn our country into what it can be.

...

Dear friends, on behalf of us all, I want to thank the President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, for standing alongside Israel during the last operation in Gaza, “Guardian of the Walls”, and for his longstanding commitment to the security of Israel.

President Biden said during the operation, “Until the region says, unequivocally, they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, there will be no peace”.

It is important that this message be heard, and internalized, in the Middle East.

We greatly appreciate the support of the United States, our greatest friend. My government will make an effort to deepen and nurture relations with our friends in both parties – bipartisan. If there are disputes, we will manage them with fundamental trust, and mutual respect.

My fellow Members of Knesset, in light of the ongoing turbulent debate, the people are looking to the House. Let us maintain respectful debate. I understand those for whom today is difficult, but friends, this is not a day of mourning. There is no Disengagement here. There is no harm being caused to anyone. There is a change of government in a democracy. That’s it. And I assure it is a government that will work for the sake of all the people. We will do all we can so that no one should have to feel afraid. We are here in the name of good, and to work. And I say to those who intend to celebrate tonight, don’t dance on the pain of others. We not enemies, we are one people.

Now, hours before accepting this responsibility, I pray to God that He grant me wisdom and understanding to lead the State of Israel.

“Heavenly Father, Rock and Redeemer of Israel, bless the State of Israel, the first flourishing of our redemption, guard it in your abundant kindness, spread over it the shelter of Your peace. Send forth your light and truth to its leaders, ministers, and advisors, and grace them with Your good counsel. Strengthen the hands of those who guard our holy land, grant them deliverance, and adorn them in victory. Give peace in the land, and grant its inhabitants eternal happiness.”

With God’s help, we will do and we will succeed. Amen.