Israel’s Interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid Holds First Cabinet Meeting

TEL AVIV: Israel’s Interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid held its first cabinet meeting since he took charge on Sunday, promising a functional government despite the political instability that sends Israel to its fifth election in less than four years.
Lapid, sitting next to his predecessor, the power-sharing partner Naphtali Bennettalso warned that Israel would take all necessary steps to defend itself after it shot down three unmanned aerial vehicles launched by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
Lapid took over as prime minister last week as part of a deal struck last year that created the coalition government.
Bennett initially led it, but resigned after a string of defections and legislative defeats. parliament disbanded, leading to new elections and the handing over of power to Lapid.
Israel will go back to the polls on November 1, when: lapid will try to convince voters to adopt his centrist view and deny former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was impeached last year after more than a decade in power, a chance to return to lead the country. Bennett will not be driving in November.
“In the coming months, our goal, from this entire table, is to run the government as if there was no election campaign. The citizens of Israel deserve a functioning government at all times,” Lapid said.
Lapid first faced his first challenge on Saturday, when Hezbollah launched its unmanned aerial vehicle toward an area where an Israeli gas platform recently hit the ground. Mediterranean
The move appeared to be an attempt by Hezbollah to influence US-brokered negotiations between Israel and Lebanon over their maritime border, a region rich in natural gas.
“Hezbollah continues its path of terrorism and undermines Lebanon’s ability to reach an agreement on the maritime border. Israel will continue to protect itself, its citizens and its assets,” he said.
Lapid, who was secretary of state under Bennett, will use his months as interim leader to prove to Israelis that he is prime minister material.
He will travel to Paris this week for meetings and will host US President Joe Biden next week, a possible stimulus for the election.
The upcoming election, as in the previous four, is likely to be a referendum on Netanyahu’s eligibility to lead at a time when he faces charges of corruption.
He denies wrongdoing, but several political parties have refused to join a government he led, complicating efforts to form coalitions and end political unrest.

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