- Naftali Bennett, a former Netanyahu ally who became a rival, who has been elected as the new Prime Minister of Israel with 60-59 vote.
- Naftali Bennett is a devout Jew who acquired a fortune in the largely secular hi-tech industry.
- He ended Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year tenure as Israeli Prime Minister.
The 120 member Knesset has approved Naftali Bennett as Israel’s next Prime Minister late Sunday evening India time, putting an end to Netanyahu’s 12-yearsof grip on power.
Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving Prime Minister, is facing a fraud charge, and following the country’s fourth indecisive election in two years, he fell short of gaining majority support.
The new Prime Minister was a long time Netanyahu adviser who was considered as Netanyahu’s right. If their fragile government survives another two years, Yair Lapid, a 57-year-old centrist, will succeed Bennett as PM.
Bennett and Lapid form an exceptional eight-party coalition that includes parties from both the left and right, secular and religious, and is united primarily by their goal to topple Netanyahu.
Who is Naftali Bennett?
Bennett, a 49-year-old politician with American parents, is a former tech entrepreneur who made millions before switching to right-wing politics and a religious-nationalist political position and becoming deeply involved in it.
For his opinions, certain Israeli analysts and newspapers have called him a “ultra-nationalist.” “I’m more right-wing than Bibi (Netanyahu), but I don’t use hate or polarisation as a technique to promote myself politically,” Bennett, the leader of the Yamina party, told The Times of Israel in February.
Bennett has recently called for the West Bank to be annexed. Observers of his political career have remarked that this has been his general stance since bursting onto the Israeli political scene in 2013.
Between 2006 and 2008, Bennett worked as a top aide to Netanyahu. He did, however, leave Netanyahu’s Likud party after his relationship with the former Prime Minister deteriorated.
Bennett joined the right-wing national religious Jewish Home party after entering politics and was elected to Parliament as its MP in 2013.
In terms of political ideology, where does Bennett stand?
Bennett is noted for being a strong supporter of the Jewish state and for insisting on Jewish historical and religious rights to the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights, which Israel has occupied near the Israel-Syrian border since 1967.
Bennett, who was once the head of the Yesha Council, a political organisation that supports Jewish settlers, has long advocated for the rights of Jewish residents in the West Bank. He has never supported Israeli claims to Gaza, though.
Bennett, on the other hand, has taken a hard stance against Palestinian militants, endorsing the death penalty for them. Bennett accused Hamas of “murdering” civilians in Gaza who were killed in Israeli airstrikes in response to Hamas rocket firing from Gaza in May of this year.
Bennett, according to The Times of Israel, “is not in the business of boycotting political rivals,” but he is a “man of the national camp” — a “firm and proud right-winger who will oppose Palestinian statehood forever, under any and all circumstances; who wants to extend Israeli sovereignty to roughly 60% of the West Bank; and who believes Israel has already relinquished too much of its Biblical land.”
Bennett’s appointment to Prime Minister is likely to be a setback for Palestinians hoping for peace talks and, eventually, an independent state.