Israel’s President Shimon Peres has sworn-in the country’s 19th parliament, a ceremony that comes amid growing regional uncertainty. And while it’s certain the next government will be led by the current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, it’s still unclear who he’ll have with him.
When it comes to pomp and circumstance, in Israel, this is about as showy as it gets. The grounds of Israel’s legislature, the Knesset, filled with flags in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Inside, 120 parliamentarians - known as MKs - vowed to defend the State.
But from what? According to Israel’s President, from Iran.
Shimon Peres, Israeli President, said, "They are building a nuclear weapon, and claim that it is against their beliefs. They are not speakers of truth."
Israel’s perceived threat from a potentially-nuclear armed Iran is nothing new. The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and that of his predecessor has been ringing the alarm bell for years.
But add to that a potential power vacuum in Syria, were President Bashar Assad to be toppled and a fear of the wrong weapons getting to Hezbollah in Lebanon and many of the incoming Knesset members see a recipe for disaster, which means otherwise pressing matters, including a settlement with the Palestinians will likely get put on hold.
Much to the chagrin of US President Barack Obama, who it’s thought is hoping to use his next term to restart a stalled peace process. White House aides announced this week that Obama will visit Israel as President for the first time - next month.
But will Netanyahu have a new government in place by then? With the various parties each extorting often-opposing demands, that’s not necessarily a given.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu urged them to put aside differences.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister, said, "The Middle East doesn’t rest. Our enemies don’t rest. The challenges are piling up around us. They, too, don’t rest for a moment. I think what needs to be done now is to join forces to stress what unites us and not what divides us."
A message intended for his potential coalition partners - posing here together - but one Netanyahu hopes might resonate across the Atlantic.