Joined: 28/01/2021 03:53:37
Naftali Bennett: The rise of Israel's new PM
Naftali Bennett, slotxo Israel's new prime minister, is a former commando and self-made tech millionaire who bills himself as further to
the right than the man he replaces - Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mr Bennett has long held ambitions to be prime minister, but his new role is remarkable given his right-wing nationalist party, Yamina,
won only a handful of seats in the last general election.
Despite his faction coming joint fifth, with seven MPs, Mr Bennett was propelled into the position of kingmaker, with his support vital
if either of the two rival blocs competing for power were to be able to form a viable governing coalition.
He was offered the premiership as a shared role by both Mr Netanyahu, who has been in power since 2009, and the centrist opposition
leader Yair Lapid. In the end, Mr Bennett sided with Mr Lapid, despite their wide ideological differences.
Naftali Bennett, 49, was once considered a protégé of Mr Netanyahu, whose chief of staff he was from 2006 to 2008, until the pair fell
out. He left Mr Netanyahu's Likud party and joined the right-wing national religious Jewish Home party, entering parliament after
leading it to success in the 2013 election.
He went on to serve as a minister in every coalition government until 2019, when his newly formed New Right alliance failed to win
any seats in that year's election. Just 11 months later, Mr Bennett reversed the loss, returning to parliament as head of Yamina
(Hebrew for "rightwards").
Often labelled an ultra-nationalist (he has described himself as "more right-wing" than Mr Netanyahu), Naftali Bennett is outspoken
in his advocacy of Israel as the Jewish nation state and Jewish historical and religious claims to the West Bank, East Jerusalem and
the Syrian Golan Heights - territory occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war.
He has long championed the right of Jewish settlement in the West Bank (he was once the head of the Yesha Council, the political
representative group for Jewish settlers), although he has said Israel has no claims on Gaza (from which Israel withdrew troops and
settlers in 2005). More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, considered illegal by
almost the entire international community, though Israel disputes this.