TEL AVIV, Israel ( Associated Press) — Israel’s interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid held his first cabinet meeting since taking office on Sunday, promising a functional government despite political instability that saw Israel win its fifth election. sending. in less than four years.
Lapid, seated next to his predecessor in power, Naftali Bennett, also warned that Israel would take any necessary action to defend itself after it shot down three drones launched by the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.
Lapid took over as prime minister last week as part of a deal that would form a coalition government. Bennett initially ran it, but resigned after several defections and legislative defeats. Parliament was dissolved, calling for new elections and bringing Lapid to power.
Israel will go to re-election on November 1, when Lapid will try to persuade voters to adopt its centrist approach and deny former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was out of power last year after more than a decade in power. Once again the opportunity to run the country was gone. Bennett will not run for the November election.
“Our aim in the coming months, from this entire table, is to run the government as if there was no election campaign. The citizens of Israel deserve a government working all the time,” Lapid said.
Lapid faced its first challenge on Saturday, when Hezbollah launched its drone toward an area where an Israeli gas platform had recently been installed in the Mediterranean Sea. The move appears to be an attempt by Hezbollah, with US mediation, to influence talks between Israel and Lebanon on its maritime border, a region rich in natural gas.
“Hezbollah continues its course of terrorism, undermining Lebanon’s ability to reach an agreement on the maritime boundary. Israel will continue to defend itself, its citizens and its assets,” he said.
Lapid, who was foreign minister under Bennett, will use his months as caretaker leader to show the Israelis that he has prime ministerial material. This week he will travel to Paris for meetings and next week he will host US President Joe Biden, a potential pre-election stimulus.