Naftali Bennett Poised to Dislodge His Mentor to Become Israel’s Next Prime Minister

A few months ago, Israel’s right wing foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman , dramatically stepped aside to allow his friend and political mentor, Naftali Bennett, to run for prime minister. If the polls are to be believed, Bennett has an excellent chance of unseating the establishment’s favorite, Benjamin Netanyahu.

One of the biggest topics of conversation for Israeli politics this month is the emergence of Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Jewish Home party, as Prime Minister-designate. Founded as the ideological successor to Ariel Sharon, the party was created in opposition to the Oslo Accords, and has been a driver of the Zionist settlement movement in the West Bank. Bennett, now head of the party, has been at the forefront of the pro-settlement movement, and has called for the continuation of the government’s construction program, and the annexation of the Jordan Valley.

AVIV Naftali Bennett, who is the standard-bearer of Israel’s right wing, spoke Monday to politicians from across Israel’s ideological spectrum who seek to oust the country’s longest-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The 49-year-old former member of the Israeli Special Forces is working with a centrist politician. Yair Lapid have until midnight Wednesday to agree on a coalition that will govern Israel during one of the most turbulent periods in the country’s history. The various parties have largely united to depose Netanyahu and prevent new elections, the fifth in the past two years. There are still many obstacles to the formation of a new government. Maybe it’s just as well, because we have to overcome it together, Lapid said Monday about the coalition talks. In one week, the State of Israel may be entering a new era. Under the new terms of the agreement, Mr. Bennett will be prime minister for two years, and Mr. Lapid will succeed him. The other parties expected to join the government are the left-wing Labor and Meretz parties, the centrist Blue and White parties and the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu and New Hope parties, as well as Mr. Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid party and Mr. Bennett’s right-wing Yamina party. The Israeli Islamist party Ra’amm is expected to provide external support to the coalition. Lapid was given the mandate to form a government earlier this month after Netanyahu failed to do so. He has until Wednesday to tell the Israeli president. Reuven Rivlin he forms the government. Once it has done so, the new government must be sworn in within a week, with the support of a majority of Knesset members. The participants of the future government say they are ready to put aside grandiose political gestures if they can prevent further political impasses at a time when the country is facing a number of critical challenges.

Centrist politician Yair Lapid issued a statement on Monday. Under the new terms of the agreement, Lapid will become prime minister in two years.

Photo: debbie hill/press pool Israel has been struggling for a year to contain the Covid 19 pandemic, which has damaged the country’s economy by billions of dollars, and is now resuming one of the fastest vaccination campaigns in the world. Israel has also clashed at sea with Iran and with Iranian allies in the region. And in May, Israel fought the militant group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, by exchanging rockets and projectiles. The conflict resulted in 256 Palestinian deaths, including 66 children, and 12 Israeli deaths, including two children. In Israel, violence between Arab and Jewish citizens also rages within the borders. If there is a dispute, for example over Gaza or something that we have not been able to resolve for more than 70 years, nothing will happen if we do not resolve it in the next 4.5 years, Matan Kahana, a member of Bennett’s Yamin party, told Army Radio on Monday. The coalition formed by Lapid and Bennett now threatens to oust Netanyahu from power, leaving him facing a corruption trial without the benefits of the premiership. Had Netanyahu remained in power, he might have been able to introduce legislation or appoint officials who could have protected him from impeachment. Mr. Bennett has his own risks. In his bid to depose his former mentor, who has been Israel’s prime minister since 2009, Bennett could be accused by the right of abandoning her. In a televised address Sunday, Netanyahu accused Bennett of misleading right-wing voters, many of whom expected the incumbent to remain in office. There is no one in Israel who would vote for Bennett if they knew what he was about to do, Netanyahu said. This is the mistake of the century. Sunday night, Netanyahu’s Likud party placed three large banners on a building near the entrance to Jerusalem, warning Bennett and his right-wing supporters that the right will not forgive you. Analysts say Bennett has every interest in ensuring that his potential coalition endures by making progress on the economy and other issues to win back faltering right-wing supporters. They are all in the running for the next election. Reuven Hazan, Professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Benny Ganz, who is the leader of the blue and white party that formed the short-lived government with Mr Netanyahu, said he would do everything possible to support Mr Bennett as prime minister. He predicted that the political interests of party leaders would sustain the Bennett-Lapid government. word-image-10397

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused his political rival Naftali Bennett of misleading right-wing voters as he entered Israel’s parliament on Sunday.

Photo: yonatan sindel/presspool Bennett] has no alternative and Lapid wants to make sure he becomes prime minister. Politically, therefore, the various players have common interests, Mr Ganz said. Everyone else does not want Binyamin Netanyahu to return. Bennett’s turnaround of Netanyahu comes together after a long and sometimes controversial history. Born in Haifa to American parents, he speaks English as well as his former mentor. Bennett was also the commander of the elite Sayaret Matkal special forces unit, in which Netanyahu served. When Mr Netanyahu was opposition leader in the mid-2000s, Mr Bennett was his chief of staff. After serving in the army and before joining Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Bennett studied law at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and made millions selling the software company he co-founded. Bennett entered the Knesset in 2013 as chairman of the Jewish Home party, a religious Zionist party, and served under Netanyahu as education minister and defense minister. He founded Yameena in 2018, separating himself from the more conservative clergy and even more hawkish Israeli politicians – although he continued to maintain a formal alliance with them until earlier this year. As government minister, Mr Bennett had to balance ideology with pragmatism, particularly on the issue of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. Oded Revivi, mayor of Efrat and former foreign affairs chief of the Yesha Council, said that as a legislator Bennett advocated annexation or the application of Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank under full Israeli control, but that he did not support such measures in any of his ministerial positions. His list of priorities changes over time, Revie says. Bennett, who on Sunday announced his decision to join Lapid, said the new government will focus on consensus and will not continue the extreme policies of the various parties, especially with regard to the Palestinians. No one will be asked to give up his ideology, but everyone will have to postpone the realization of some of his dreams, he said. We will focus on what can be done instead of arguing about what is impossible. President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have worked together for decades, but their friendship is being tested by the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Gerald F. Seib of the WSJ looks back at key moments in the past 15 years of their relationship and what might happen next. Illustration photo: Todd Johnson -Dov Lieber in Jerusalem contributed to this article. Email Felicia Schwartz at [email protected] Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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