Bennett, Naftali

Bennett, Naftali, 1972-, Israeli politician and prime minister (2021-), b. Haifa. The son of American immigrant parents, Naftali served in the Israeli army (1990-96) and then graduated with a law degree from the Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem. In 1999, he moved to New York City, where he formed a cyber security firm with branches in the U.S. and Israel; he sold the firm in 2005, and then founded a second technology company, Soluto (2009-13). In 2011, he was elected to the Knesset. He was appointed Minister of Economy, Religious Services, and of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs in 2013, leaving those posts to become Minister of Education in 2015. In 2018, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Bennett’s bid to become Minister of Defense, and dismissed him from his government in June 2019. Bennett briefly lost his seat in the Knesset, but returned representing the new United Right party in 2020. He formed a new coalition with seven other parties from across the political spectrum to defeat Netanyahu in June 2021, by a single vote, becoming Israel’s first new prime minister in 12 years. While he is described as an ultra-nationalist, strongly opposing a Palestinian state and advocating for further Jewish settlements, it is unclear what policy direction his new coalition will take.

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