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Israel

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Israel swore in its newly elected parliament on Monday under stringent restrictions because of the coronavirus outbreak, in a surreal ceremony reflecting the country’s unprecedented dual crisis in politics and public health.

Instead of the typical festive gathering of parliament’s 120, the new lawmakers took the oath of office in groups of three over 40 staggered rounds, in keeping with a Health Ministry ban on gatherings of more than 10 people.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin presided over the unusual event after the Israeli Knesset, or Parliament, was thoroughly sprayed with disinfectant.

The president, flanked by the Knesset speaker and secretary, opened the first session of parliament before a chamber empty save for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz.

Rivlin called for unity and compromise from the two leaders, saying the Israeli people “are in need of rest.

After Netanyahu and Gantz were sworn in, they were ushered out of the hall and the lawmakers were brought in three-by-three for brief swearing-in ceremonies.

The event, coming two weeks after national elections, will give the country a new legislature.

Rivlin on Monday formally designated Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party, the task of forming a coalition after