Naftali Bennett transfers his formula for success in the business world to politics and after a fifteen-year career, he reaches the top of power in Israel and unseats his former mentor: Benjamin Netanyahu. The son of immigrants from San Francisco, Bennett was born in Haifa 49 years ago and is an Orthodox religious who grew up in a secular family. After spending periods in the United States and Canada, he studied law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and founded the cybersecurity company Cyota, which he sold in 2005 for 123 million euros. This successful past in the world of start-ups and his experience as an officer in the Maglan unit of the Army’s special forces, one of the elite units, are two of the aspects that have most marked the life of the new prime minister.
His arrival in politics occurred in 2006 and he elected the Likud, which was in the opposition at the time, and Netanyahu appointed him chief of staff. The adventure did not go as expected, he decided to redirect his career towards religious Zionism and became the leader of the settler movement from 2010 to 2012. From this experience his commitment to ultra-nationalism was born and he went on to lead the Bayit Yehudi party, with which he obtained 12 seats in the late 2013 elections. He was part of the coalition led by Netanyahu and held the ministries of the Economy, Religious Affairs and Diaspora. In the 2015 elections, he again became part of the governing coalition and was appointed Minister of Education.
Three years later, in the midst of the turbulent political life of a country increasingly polarized by Netanyahu, Bennettt decided to form his own party, called it the New Right, and it was his first major failure because he failed to exceed the minimum percentage of votes required to power. enter parliament. In the maelstrom of four elections in the last two years, the New Right was renamed Yamina after allying itself with two other small parties, managed to enter the chamber and Bennett was appointed defense minister in one of Netanyahu’s interim governments.
In the March 2021 elections, Yamina won seven seats and thanks to them and the close collaboration with Yair Lapid, the former businessman and former head of the settlers makes the leap to the front line. The problem that Netanyahu faces is not ideological, it is more one of management and above all personal, the same thing that has happened to the Likud leader with other former protégés such as Avigdor Lieberman or Gideon Saar, who have also embarked on the government of the change.
No to the Palestinian state
Bennett considers himself a “modern orthodox” Jew. He is the first head of government with a kippah, but he leads a secular coalition. This transversality was also seen during his time as head of the settlers as he led the Yesha Council, the body that unites the West Bank colonies, but he has never been a settler and has maintained his residence in Ra’anana, near Tel Aviv.
One of the key points in his electoral program is the need to move from occupation to annexation of the West Bank. It is openly opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state and therefore does not agree with the two-state solution that the international community defends, led by the government of Joe Biden. When in 2013 he declared “I have killed many Arabs in my life and there is no problem”, his words occupied all the press headlines, he took the opportunity to make a difference with Netanyahu because he claimed to be “further to the right” than the prime minister.
“We must continue working in this direction to annex this area C and give it an Israeli identity, as we did with the Golan and East Jerusalem, areas that over the years the world has already understood that they are ours”, is one of the maxims that the ultranationalist leader repeats in each campaign. This government of change will have the opportunity to lead this project that Netanyahu himself could not carry out, although considering the coalition that he has at his side he is pragmatic and has already advanced that “we are all going to have to give in and we will not be able to fulfill our programs ».