JERUSALEM — The morning after Donald J. Trump’s victory within the 2016 presidential election, Naftali Bennett, the energetic chief of a comparatively small, Israeli pro-settlement get together, exulted earlier than an viewers of overseas reporters in Jerusalem, “The period of a Palestinian state is over!”
Now, Mr. Bennett, 49, a former high-tech entrepreneur who insists that there must not ever be a full-fledged Palestinian state and that Israel ought to annex a lot of the occupied West Financial institution, is poised to turn out to be Israel’s subsequent prime minister, changing Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mr. Bennett, a former ally of Mr. Netanyahu typically described as extra proper wing than the prime minister, is the independently rich son of American immigrants. He first entered the Israeli Parliament eight years in the past and is comparatively unknown and inexperienced on the worldwide stage, leaving a lot of the world — to not point out many Israelis — questioning what sort of chief he may be.
Shifting between seemingly contradictory alliances, he has been referred to as a right-wing extremist, a pragmatist and an opportunist.
However in a measure of his skills, he has now pulled off a feat that’s extraordinary even by the perplexing requirements of Israeli politics: He has maneuvered himself into the highest workplace regardless that his get together, Yamina, gained simply seven of the 120 seats within the Parliament.
A canny and impressive beneficiary of Israel’s extended political morass, Mr. Bennett leveraged his modest however pivotal electoral weight after the inconclusive March election, Israel’s fourth in two years. He entered coalition talks as a kingmaker, and emerged because the one sporting the crown.
In a profession stuffed with paradoxes, Mr. Bennett, as soon as a prime aide to Mr. Netanyahu, 71, performed an important position in toppling his former boss, Israel’s longest-serving chief. In consequence, Mr. Netanyahu was introduced down — for now, a minimum of — not solely by his longtime rivals on the middle and left of the political spectrum but in addition by somebody thought-about much more hard-line.
Mr. Bennett has lengthy championed West Financial institution settlers and as soon as led the council representing them, however he has by no means been a settler, himself, and lives in Ra’anana, an prosperous city in central Israel, along with his spouse and 4 kids. He’s religiously observant — he could be the primary prime minister to put on a kipa — however he’ll head a governing coalition that’s largely secular.
He’s finest identified for views on settlements, annexation and Palestinian statehood that many on Israel’s left and heart — to not point out a lot of the world — think about not simply incorrect however harmful. But his coalition spans Israel’s fractious political spectrum from left to proper, and depends on the assist of a small Arab, Islamist get together.
That coalition proposes to paper over its variations on Israeli-Palestinian relations by specializing in home issues.
Mr. Bennett has defined his motives for teaming up with such ideological opposites as an act of final resort to finish the political deadlock that has paralyzed Israel.
“The political disaster in Israel is unprecedented on a world degree,” he mentioned in a televised speech on Sunday. “We may find yourself with fifth, sixth, even tenth elections, dismantling the partitions of the nation, brick by brick, till our home falls in on us. Or we are able to cease the insanity and take accountability.”
Now Mr. Bennett faces the best problem of his political profession, attempting to carry that unlikely coalition collectively, to vault from being a second-tier determine to a nationwide chief, and to keep up relations with Israel’s most necessary ally, america. President Biden has been cooler towards Mr. Netanyahu than Mr. Trump was.
“There can be, I believe, a collective sigh of aid inside the Biden administration that they’ve new, younger Israeli blood to cope with,” mentioned Martin S. Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and a former particular envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Mr. Bennett can be pressured by the settler proper to ship for them, Mr. Indyk mentioned, however it seems that “he has already accepted that he gained’t be capable to pursue that agenda.”
He campaigned because the right-wing various to Mr. Netanyahu, who has held energy for 12 years consecutively and 15 years general, and is now standing trial on corruption expenses. They’ve typically differed extra in tone than substance, as Mr. Bennett averted the inflammatory language and long-running authorized drama of his predecessor.
Aida Touma-Sliman, a lawmaker from the Joint Checklist of predominantly Arab events, wrote on Twitter that Mr. Bennett would lead “a harmful right-wing authorities,” one that will “take away Netanyahu and protect his path.”
After Mr. Bennett described Mr. Netanyahu on Sunday as a divisive and polarizing pressure, Mr. Netanyahu accused his former aide of utilizing “the identical hole slogans about hate and division,” and of “committing the fraud of the century.”
Individuals who know him describe Mr. Bennett as likable and tolerant behind closed doorways, a pragmatist at coronary heart, although how that non-public particular person would translate to governing stays to be seen.
“Individuals assume he’s a fanatic. He’s not,” mentioned Ayelet Frish, an Israeli political advisor. She mentioned Mr. Bennett as soon as advised her that he had grown up in a house of “Woodstock mother and father,” surrounded by largely secular tradition, and famous his time within the largely secular high-tech enterprise world.
Orit Galili-Zucker, a former strategic communications adviser to Mr. Netanyahu, mentioned Mr. Bennett aimed “to current an alternative choice to Netanyahu’s poisonous discourse.”
In Mr. Bennett’s first marketing campaign, in 2013, Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud get together branded him as “a harmful, messianic right-winger,” she mentioned. Now Likud was calling him a “harmful leftist,” she famous, for becoming a member of forces with the opposition chief Yair Lapid to unseat Mr. Netanyahu.
Now Likud and its staunch ultra-Orthodox allies can be heading into the opposition.
Beneath the brand new coalition’s authorities, Mr. Bennett will function prime minister for the primary a part of a four-year time period, to be adopted by the secular, centrist Mr. Lapid. By conceding the primary flip within the rotation, Mr. Lapid smoothed the way in which for different right-wing politicians to hitch the anti-Netanyahu alliance.
- Key Figures. The primary gamers within the newest twist in Israeli politics have very totally different agendas, however one frequent objective. Naftali Bennett, who leads a small right-wing get together, and Yair Lapid, the centrist chief of the Israeli opposition, have joined forces to kind a various coalition to unseat Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.
- Vary of Beliefs. Spanning Israel’s fractious political spectrum from left to proper, and counting on the assist of a small Arab, Islamist get together, the coalition, dubbed the “change authorities” by supporters, will probably mark a profound shift for Israel.
- A Widespread Objective. After grinding impasse that led to 4 inconclusive elections in two years, and an excellent longer interval of polarizing politics and authorities paralysis, the architects of the coalition have pledged to get Israel again on observe.
- An Unclear Future. Parliament nonetheless has to ratify the delicate settlement in a confidence vote within the coming days. However even when it does, it stays unclear how a lot change the “change authorities” may carry to Israel as a result of a number of the events concerned have little in frequent moreover animosity for Mr. Netanyahu.
Mr. Bennett represents a brand new era in Israeli politics and could be the second-youngest prime minister within the nation’s historical past; solely Mr. Netanyahu, when he first got here into the workplace a era in the past, was youthful.
Born in Israel, Mr. Bennett spent components of his childhood residing in america and Canada. He served in the identical Israeli Military commando unit Mr. Netanyahu had. He then moved to New York and based a software program firm that he later bought for $145 million, and served as chief govt of one other firm.
He has had a fraught relationship with Mr. Netanyahu since a stint as his chief of employees led to acrimony in 2008. A pointy critic of a few of Mr. Netanyahu’s insurance policies, he however sat in a number of Netanyahu-led governments as a minister, in addition to within the opposition. In late 2019, Mr. Netanyahu appointed him as protection minister to maintain Mr. Bennett on his aspect at a time of political turmoil, and he served in that position for about six months.
Over the previous decade, Mr. Bennett and his senior associate in Yamina, Ayelet Shaked, have run for workplace in an array of right-wing, pro-settlement events with a dizzying collection of identify modifications and allies. In 2013, once they had been a pair of political newcomers, he fashioned what was seen as a stunning alliance with Mr. Lapid.
Mr. Bennett has typically punched above his weight on safety points. On the eve of the 2014 Gaza battle, he presciently raised the risk arising from tunnels dug by Hamas beneath the Gaza-Israel border and pressed for a plan of motion to neutralize them.
Later that 12 months, he wrote an uncompromising op-ed in The New York Occasions explaining his view that Israel couldn’t enable the creation of a Palestinian state. He has proposed granting the Palestinians “a form of autonomy on steroids” in about 40 p.c of the West Financial institution, and progressively making use of Israeli sovereignty in the remainder of the territory — a transfer a lot of the world would think about unlawful.
The following 12 months he wrote one other op-ed forcefully condemning Jewish extremists who had stabbed contributors at a homosexual pleasure parade in Jerusalem and burned three members of a Palestinian household to demise in a West Financial institution village, denouncing the perpetrators as “terrorists.”
At occasions, Mr. Bennett and Ms. Shaked joined forces with extra radical political factions within the non secular Zionist camp who’re closely influenced by their rabbis. Working because the New Proper get together within the April 2019 election, with out their extra excessive companions, they failed to achieve sufficient votes to enter Parliament.
Within the run-up to this 12 months’s election, the pair tried to broaden their enchantment to extra mainstream Israelis, and had extra success, gathering some assist from disaffected former Netanyahu voters. Mr. Bennett has been pushing a program for financial reform that he calls his “Singapore Plan,” helps curbing the powers of the judiciary and has criticized the current authorities’s dealing with of the pandemic.
After the election, neither the pro-Netanyahu bloc of events nor the anti-Netanyahu group may kind a parliamentary majority with out his get together. Each side courted him, providing him an opportunity to function prime minister in a rotation settlement. Mr. Bennett made it clear he would have most popular to hitch a right-wing authorities, however Mr. Netanyahu proved unable to kind one.