Sun, 14 Aug 2022

Jerusalem [Israel], July 3 (ANI): Israel's interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday pledged to run a functional government despite another round of political instability that triggered new elections.

After taking the office as interim prime minister, Lapid held the first cabinet meeting on Sunday where he sat next to his predecessor Naftali Bennett, who handed over the power to Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party, under the power-sharing deal they agreed upon following inconclusive elections in 2021.

"Our goal in the coming months will be to manage the government as if there were no elections...This is what I expect from my fellow ministers," Lapid told the ministers at the beginning of the meeting, reported Xinhua News Agency.

"This government will continue to act for the good of the citizens," he said, adding "We will make decisions, we will take actions, and we will continue to increase the economic, diplomatic and security strength of Israel."Lapid encountered his first security challenge as prime minister on Saturday. Three drones, identified by the Israeli military as belonging to the Lebanon-based armed group Hezbollah, approached the airspace over Israel's territorial waters, near the recently built Karish natural gas platform. An Israeli fighter jet and a Navy missile cruiser intercepted the drones, the Israeli military said in a statement.

Lapid said Israel would take the necessary measures to thwart threats and defend itself, its people and its assets, Xinhua reported.

Lapid also noted that Hezbollah is still pursuing terrorism, which makes it more difficult for Lebanon to settle an agreement on a maritime border (with Israel).

Lapid became the caretaker prime minister on Friday after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's coalition government lost its majority in the parliament, triggering an unprecedented fifth election in less than four years.

He will hold the position until the next government is formed after the elections scheduled on November 1.

Last week, Israel's parliament passed the bill to dissolve itself in a preliminary reading after the ruling coalition lost its majority in the parliament, sending Israelis to the ballots for the fifth time in less than four years.

Bennett on Wednesday informed the members of his party that he has no plans to participate in the next parliamentary elections.

Lapid will embark on his first diplomatic journey as prime minister on Tuesday, travelling to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron.

His ascent to the top office comes ahead of US President Joe Biden's visit to Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia in mid-July.

Analysts have predicted that Biden's visit may accompany an announcement about the warming of ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, two countries that have never had a formal diplomatic relationship, The New York Times (NYT) reported. (ANI)

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