After a record 12 years under Netanyahu’s leadership, Israel ushered in an era on Sunday, electing a ragtag coalition unified by anti-Bibi sentiment and appointing his one-time protege Naftali Bennett new prime minister.
Naftali Bennett was to take over the leadership of the eight-party group, unified by their shared disdain for the right-wing, hawkish leader, known as Bibi.
Sixty Knesset members voted in favor of the ideologically divided coalition, while 59 voted against it, with one abstention.
After a handshake with Mr. Netanyahu after his supporters applauded his election, Naftali Bennett walked to the rostrum at the head of the Knesset chamber and took the oath of office as Prime Minister.
Bennett will be Prime Minister for two years, following which Yair Lapid, the coalition architect, will take over.
Netanyahu, 71, promised just before his defeat, “if it’s our destiny to be in the opposition, we’ll do it with our heads high until we knock down this horrible administration and return to lead the country our way,” in his trademark aggressive style.
Netanyahu has long been the dominating, and increasingly contentious, figure in Israeli politics, dubbed “King Bibi” by his right-wing followers and denounced as the “crime minister” by his adversaries.
However, after weeks of high political drama, his government was defeated by a razor-thin majority of 60 to 59 in the 120-seat Knesset assembly on Sunday.