Naftali Bennett, who was sworn in Sunday as Israel’s new prime minister, embodies most of the contradictions that outline the 73-year-old nation.
He is a spiritual Jew who made hundreds of thousands within the largely secular hi-tech sector; a champion of the settlement motion who lives in a Tel Aviv suburb; a former ally of Benjamin Netanyahu who has partnered with centrist and left-wing events to finish his 12-year rule.
His ultranationalist Yamina get together gained simply seven seats within the 120-member Knesset in March elections — the fourth such vote in two years. However by refusing to decide to Netanyahu or his opponents, Bennett positioned himself as kingmaker. Even after one member of his non secular nationalist get together deserted him to protest the brand new coalition deal, he ended up with the crown.
This is a take a look at Israel’s subsequent chief:
AN ULTRANATIONALIST WITH A MODERATE COALITION
Bennett has lengthy positioned himself to the suitable of Netanyahu. However he shall be severely constrained by his unwieldy coalition, which has solely a slim majority in parliament and consists of events from the suitable, left and heart.
He’s against Palestinian independence and strongly helps Jewish settlements within the occupied West Financial institution and east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians and far of the worldwide group see as a significant impediment to peace.
Bennett fiercely criticized Netanyahu after the prime minister agreed to sluggish settlement development beneath stress from President Barack Obama, who tried and didn’t revive the peace course of early in his first time period.
He briefly served as head of the West Financial institution settler’s council, Yesha, earlier than coming into the Knesset in 2013. Bennett later served as cupboard minister of diaspora affairs, schooling and protection in varied Netanyahu-led governments.
“He’s a right-wing chief, a safety hard-liner, however on the similar time very pragmatic,” mentioned Yohanan Plesner, head of the Israel Democracy Institute, who has recognized Bennett for many years and served with him within the navy.
He expects Bennett to interact with different factions to discover a “frequent denominator” as he seeks assist and legitimacy as a nationwide chief.
RIVALRY WITH NETANYAHU
The 49-year-old father of 4 shares Netanyahu’s hawkish strategy to the Center East battle, however the two have had tense relations over time.
Bennett served as Netanyahu’s chief of employees for 2 years, however they parted methods after a mysterious falling out that Israeli media linked to Netanyahu’s spouse, Sara, who wields nice affect over her husband’s inside circle.
Bennett campaigned as a right-wing stalwart forward of the March elections and signed a pledge on nationwide TV saying he would by no means enable Yair Lapid, a centrist and Netanyahu’s fundamental rival, to grow to be prime minister.
However when it grew to become clear Netanyahu was unable to type a ruling coalition, that is precisely what Bennett did, agreeing to function prime minister for 2 years earlier than handing energy to Lapid, the architect of the brand new coalition.
Netanyahu’s supporters have branded Bennett a traitor, saying he defrauded voters. Bennett has defended his choice as a realistic transfer geared toward unifying the nation and avoiding a fifth spherical of elections.
A GENERATIONAL SHIFT
Bennett, a father of 4 and a contemporary Orthodox Jew, shall be Israel’s first prime minister who repeatedly wears a kippa, the skullcap worn by observant Jews. He lives within the upscale Tel Aviv suburb of Raanana, somewhat than the settlements he champions.
Bennett started life along with his American-born dad and mom in Haifa, then bounced along with his household between North America and Israel, navy service, regulation college and the non-public sector. All through, he’s curated a persona that’s directly trendy, non secular and nationalist.
After serving within the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit, Bennett went to regulation college at Hebrew College. In 1999, he co-founded Cyota, an anti-fraud software program firm that was offered in 2005 to U.S.-based RSA Safety for $145 million.
Bennett has mentioned the bitter expertise of Israel’s 2006 warfare towards the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah drove him to politics. The monthlong warfare ended inconclusively, and Israel’s navy and political management on the time was extensively criticized as bungling the marketing campaign.
Bennett represents a 3rd technology of Israeli leaders, after the founders of the state and Netanyahu’s technology, which got here of age in the course of the nation’s tense early years marked by repeated wars with Arab states.
“He is Israel 3.0,” Anshel Pfeffer, a columnist for Israel’s left-leaning Haaretz newspaper, wrote in a latest profile of Bennett.
“A Jewish nationalist however not likely dogmatic. A bit non secular, however definitely not religious. A navy man who prefers the comforts of civilian city life and a high-tech entrepreneur who isn’t trying to make any extra hundreds of thousands. A supporter of the Larger Land of Israel however not a settler. And he could effectively not be a lifelong politician both.”
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