Naftali Bennett, Netanyahu's ultra-nationalist disciple who has ousted him from power

After 12 years at the head of the Government of Israel, Benjamin netanyahu he leaves office, ousted by an agreement of the opposition bloc that ends more than two years of political blockade and a cycle of four elections in which the political crisis has not been resolved.

The new executive will be made up of a coalition of seven opposition parties and would have at the head, at least during the first two years of the legislature, the ultranationalist Naftali Bennett, party leader Yamina. Yair Lapid, the centrist leader of the second most voted formation in the last elections, and who was commissioned to form a government after the failure of Netanyahu, would hold the post of Foreign Minister until he took over from Benett, in two years.

For now, the turn is for Naftali Bennett. During the campaign, Yamina’s leader declared on several occasions that it was time for Benjamin Netanyahu, 71 years old and in power since 2009, give way to a new generation. However, he refused to join a coalition in which the prime minister would be the centrist Yaïr Lapid. What seemed to be the main stumbling block has been solved with the option of turning the politicians in charge of the country.

Bennet, a 49-year-old millionaire, son of American immigrants, born in Haifa, defends economic ultraliberalism, the hard line with Iran and the annexation of almost two-thirds of the occupied West Bank, which gives the radical right-wing party much popularity among Jewish settlers.

Firmly opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state that, according to him, “will in the long run become another terrorist state like Gaza”, and in favor of the expansion of the Jewish colonies where a large part of his electoral base is located, his words on the subject has always been blunt.

“If we catch terrorists, you have to kill them, simply“he said in 2013, in a conversation with the national security adviser, Yaakov Amidror, leaked by the press.” I have killed many, many Arabs in my life, and I have not had any problem for it, “he added.

“There are some things that most of us know will never happen: there will not be a new season of The Sopranos… Y there will never be a peace plan with the Palestinians“, he said in a campaign spot for the 2013 elections. The same year he rejected any occupation of the territory: “What occupation? Can you be an occupant in your own home? This is our home,” he argued.

Military career

Last year, when the Netanyahu government sought to go ahead with the annexation of the West Bank and the construction of settlements in the last months of the Trump administration, Bennett, then head of Defense, assured: “The construction push in the country should not stop, not even for a second. “

Bennett’s career, like that of many Israeli politicians, is tied to the military. Bennett, whose family immigrated to Israel from San Francisco, served in the Israeli army special forces for six years.

Upon retiring from the Army in 1996, Bennett went to New York, where he studied law, and founded a cybersecurity software company, then valued at 146 million euros, and whose sale financially secured him for life. “I could have cocktails in the Caribbean for the rest of my life,” he once said.

In 2006, Benjamin Netanyahu appointed him his chief of staff, a position he held until 2008. Two years later, in 2010, he became the director of the Yesha Council, the main organization for the promotion of settlements in occupied territory, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice.

In the spring of 2012, the politician left the Likud, Israel’s largest conservative party, to which Netanyahu belongs, and joined the national-religious party. “Jewish Home”. In 2018 he founded a new parliamentary group called “The New Right” and, for the 2019 parliamentary elections, “The New Right” joined the alliance “Union of Right-wing Parties” to form the Yamina political alliance, which at that time he was in favor of the re-election of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Stormy relationship

His relationship with Netanyahu has been stormy. His eldest son is named Yoni in honor of the brother of the still prime minister, who was killed in an Israeli raid to free passengers kidnapped at Uganda’s Entebbe airport in 1976, and the country’s still prime minister was considered his mentor during many years.

He was Minister of Defense, Education and Economy in several Netanyahu governments, however, the mistrust of bennett for Netanyahu to be able to carry out the conservative policies he advocates led to a certain distancing.

In May 2020 Netanyahu stopped counting on him and was considered politically dead but, although in the last legislative elections of March he obtained a bad result, with only seven seats, in recent weeks he has known how to play his cards to end up becoming a key player in the formation of the coalition government and also take over the post of prime minister.


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