Naftali Bennett: The right-wing millionaire who may end Netanyahu era By Reuters

© Reuters. Leader of the Yamina occasion Naftali Bennett delivers a press release within the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, in Jerusalem May 30, 2021. Yonatan Sindel/Pool by way of REUTERS


By Maayan Lubell

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Naftali Bennett, Israel’s seemingly subsequent prime minister, is a self-made tech millionaire who goals of annexing a lot of the occupied West Bank.

Bennett has stated that creation of a Palestinian state can be suicide for Israel, citing safety causes.

But the standard-bearer of Israel’s non secular proper and staunch supporter of Jewish settlements stated on Sunday he was becoming a member of forces together with his political opponents to avoid wasting the nation from political catastrophe.

The son of American immigrants, Bennett, 49, is a technology youthful than 71-year-old Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving chief.

A former commando, Bennett named his eldest son after Netanyahu’s brother, Yoni, who was killed in an Israeli raid to free hijacked passengers at Uganda’s Entebbe airport in 1976.

Bennett has had a protracted and infrequently rocky relationship with Netanyahu, working between 2006 and 2008 as a senior aide to the then-opposition chief earlier than leaving on reported dangerous phrases.

Bennett stormed into nationwide politics in 2013, revamping a pro-settler occasion and serving as minister of defence in addition to of schooling and the financial system in varied Netanyahu governments.

A former chief of Yesha, the principle settler motion within the West Bank, Bennett made annexation of elements of the territory that Israel captured in a 1967 conflict a serious function of his political platform.

But as head of a so-called authorities of “change” that may embrace left-wing and centrist events, whereas counting on help in parliament from Arab legislators, following by means of on annexation can be politically unfeasible.

Bennett stated on Sunday each the precise and left must compromise on such ideological issues.

Born within the Israeli metropolis of Haifa to immigrants from San Francisco, Bennett is a modern-Orthodox non secular Jew. He lives together with his spouse, Gilat, a dessert chef, and their 4 youngsters within the prosperous Tel Aviv suburb of Raanana.

Like Netanyahu, Bennett speaks fluent American-accented English and spent a few of his childhood in north America, the place his mother and father had been on sabbatical.

While working within the high-tech sector, Bennett studied regulation at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. In 1999, he shaped a start-up after which moved to New York, ultimately promoting his anti-fraud software program firm, Cyota, to U.S. safety agency RSA for $145 million in 2005.


Last 12 months, as Netanyahu’s authorities sought to press forward with West Bank annexation and settlement constructing within the closing months of the Trump administration, Bennett, then defence chief, stated: “The building momentum in the country must not be stopped, even for a second.”

The annexation plan was ultimately scrapped when Israel formalised ties with the United Arab Emirates. Analysts see little probability of it being resurrected underneath Donald Trump’s Democratic successor, President Joe Biden, if ever.

Nonetheless, Palestinians are prone to regard Bennett’s elevation as a blow to hopes of a negotiated peace and an impartial state, the long-standing diplomatic components that Biden favours.

After Israel in March held its fourth election in two years Bennett, who leads the far-right Yamina occasion, stated a fifth vote can be a nationwide calamity and entered talks with the centre-left block that kinds the principle opposition to Netanyahu.

An advocate of liberalising the financial system, Bennett has voiced help for slicing authorities pink tape and taxes.

Unlike a few of his former allies on the non secular proper, Bennett is relatively liberal on points similar to homosexual rights and the connection between faith and state in a rustic the place Orthodox rabbis wield sturdy affect.

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