Israel's interim PM Lapid holds 1st cabinet meeting

Jerusalem, Jul 4 (IANS): Israel's interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid has pledged to run a functional government despite another round of political instability that triggered new elections.

In the first cabinet meeting since Lapid took office as interim Prime Minister on Friday, he sat next to his predecessor Naftali Bennett. The two rotated on Friday under a power-sharing deal they agreed upon in June 2021, after their ideologically diverse eight-party coalition government collapsed only a year after it took office.

"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," he told the Ministers at the beginning of the meeting.

"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, Xinhua news agency reported.

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.

The interim Prime Minister said Israel would take the necessary measures to thwart threats and defend itself, its people and its assets.

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).

He will serve as the country's interim Prime Minister until a new government is formed after the elections scheduled on November 1.

The parliament, or Knesset, voted to dissolve itself last week after the coalition lost its majority in the parliament, sending Israelis to the ballots for the fifth time in less than four years.

Lapid is expected to embark on his first diplomatic journey as Prime Minister on Tuesday, travelling to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron.

In mid-July, he will host the US President Joe Biden, whose Middle East trip includes stops in Israel and Saudi Arabia.



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Title: Israel's interim PM Lapid holds 1st cabinet meeting

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