After Israel's 32nd government was sworn in on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu officially took power Wednesday morning at a ceremony held at the President's Residence in Jerusalem. The event was attended by members of the outgoing governments.
Netanyahu stressed in his speech that "there is nothing wrong with experience." He turned to outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and said, "I will reserve the right to turn to you, consult you, listen to your views as to the missions standing before us, and there are many of them."
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The new prime minister thanked his family: "To my sons, who keep me on the ground of reality and help me stay connected to the young people's world, and to my wife Sara, the beloved mother of my children, the axis of our family life.
"You are the ones who tells me that the strength of a society is measured by the way it deals with its weak links. We'll remember that on the eve of this Passover. We don't have another country. We'll take care of it, and God willing, it will take care of us," he concluded.
Israel's 32nd government with President Peres (Photo: Reuters)
After elaborating on the moving moments he experienced during his tenure, and mentioning "operations which will be published in many years and their significance to the security of the State of Israel will be revealed," former PM Olmert said, "I did not fulfill my dream of reaching real peace with our neighbors. This mission has yet to be completed."
He also mentioned kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit's family. "I felt their pain and understood their disappointment."
Peres: This is a legitimate government
The next to speak was President Shimon Peres, who kindly thanked Olmert: "Your tenure was characterized by difficult security-related decisions, which yielded important strategic results. Some cannot be mentioned yet.
"You and your government had heavy challenges to deal with in strengthening Israel's international status, while it was strongly attacked unjustifiably and without any consideration. You met these challenges properly."
Turning to Netanyahu, the president stressed "the serious efforts you invested in order to try and create a wide partnership."
On the backdrop of the harsh criticism voiced against the establishment of the largest government in the State's history, Peres noted, "I am familiar with the mission of combining four wheels in order to get the cart going. This is not a trivial thing. But a government with a parliamentary majority is a legitimate government."
Following Olmert's Monday speech at the Knesset, in which he stressed the need for an agreement with the Palestinian based on a two-state solution, Peres refrained from making an explicit request, but said, "The outgoing government adopted the two states for two people solution, which was initiated by the American administration and accepted by most countries in the world. And your government must determine the face of the new reality.
"There is an Arab initiative for regional peace, and I am not familiar with any other good alternative for peace in the entire region. Moreover, the need for peace meets the Iranian threat to take over the region, which is mainly comprised of Arab countries," the president added.
Outgoing Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel opened the ceremony by saying that "the Israeli nation was never a convenient nation to lead." He added that "the next chapter in history begins here and now.
The ceremony was also attended by the Olmert and Netanyahu families, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin.