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Netnayahu addreses the Knesset. Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty

Hours before a vote to oust him, outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused President Biden of endangering Israel's security by taking a soft line on Iran, and claimed his successor, Naftali Bennett, would be too weak to stand up to Washington.

Why it matters: Netanyahu waged a desperate but unsuccessful campaign to stop a "change coalition" from joining together to replace him after an inconclusive election in March. Facing an imminent demotion to opposition leader, he foreshadowed a willingness to damage the U.S.-Israel relationship to put his rival under pressure.

"He decided to damage the U.S.-Israel relationship for his own personal interests and is trying to leave scorched earth for the incoming government."
— Senior Israeli diplomat on Netanyahu

Driving the news: Bennett, a right-wing former tech entrepreneur, will lead the most ideologically diverse coalition in Israeli history, with its members united by little more than a desire to remove Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption and battled through what seemed like a never ending cycle of elections over the past two years.

  • Bennett spoke before Netanyahu, but as he was trying to present his platform, allies of Netanyahu continuously interrupted him with shouts of "liar" and "fraud."
  • Bennett took a hard line on the Iran deal in his speech, saying it was a mistake in 2015 and remains one today. He also thanked Biden for his support for Israel, stressed that he wants good relations with both parties in Washington, and drew a contrast with Netanyahu by promising that any disagreements with Biden will be managed with "mutual trust and respect."
  • Bennett's coalition partner, centrist Yair Lapid, forwent his opportunity to speak next, citing the interruptions during Bennett's speech, which he said were a disgrace.

Then Netanyahu rose to speak. He accused Bennett of being weak and untrustworthy (noting that he'd broken a campaign pledge by forming a government with Lapid), and said his protege-turned-rival would refuse to stand up to Biden on Iran.

  • Netanyahu claimed that the Biden administration had asked him to keep their disagreements on Iran private, but that he refused to do so, valuing his hard line on Iran over smooth relations with the U.S.
  • Netanyahu positioned himself as the only man standing between Iran and an arsenal of nuclear weapons, and claimed Iranians were celebrating his departure. He also compared Biden's Iran policy to the refusal of the U.S. to bomb the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944.
  • He also said he'd rejected U.S. demands to freeze settlement construction and opposed Biden's plan to reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, which handled relations with the Palestinians before being shut down by Donald Trump. Again, he claimed Bennett lacked the stature or credibility to take similar stands.

Between the lines: Despite Bennett's right-wing politics and hardline positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, many senior officials in the Biden administration will be be happy to see the end of Netanyahu's tenure.

The latest: The new government survived a confidence vote with the narrowest possible majority — 60 to 59 with one abstention — and Bennett was sworn in as prime minister.

  • Netanyahu vowed to bring the "dangerous" government down, and "much sooner than you think."

Go deeper: Netanyahu rejects Trump comparisons, pledges peaceful transition of power

Go deeper

Jun 11, 2021 - World

Iran regains United Nations voting rights

Downtown Tehran on May 30. Photo: Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Iran regained its United Nations General Assembly vote on Friday after it made a minimum dues payment, while denouncing the United States for sanctions that had blocked billions in funds, AP reports.

The big picture: The Biden administration on Thursday lifted sanctions on former Iranian officials affiliated with the National Iranian Oil Co., signaling that it's willing to ease economic pressure on Iran, the Wall Street Journal reports.

16 mins ago - Sports

NFL to fine unvaccinated players $14K for violating COVID-19 protocols

Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs wears a facemask while preparing for the start of Super Bowl LV. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The NFL will fine unvaccinated players $14,650 if they violate COVID-19 protocols this season, ESPN reports.

The big picture: The rule change comes two days after the NFL announced that postponed games due to coronavirus outbreaks among unvaccinated players or staffers will not be rescheduled and teams responsible for delays will automatically forfeit.

3 hours ago - Sports

The new faces of NBC's Olympics coverage

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Cy Cyr/PGA Tour via Getty Images

A new(ish) face will be leading NBCUniversal's prime-time coverage of the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games: veteran sportscaster Mike Tirico.

Why it matters: It's Tirico's first run as prime-time host for the Summer Olympics. Legendary broadcaster Bob Costas hosted 12 Olympic Games between 1988 and 2016 for NBC before handing over the prime-time spot to Tirico in 2018.