Tag Archives: Naftali Bennet

The future of #Israel: A Conversation With Naftali Bennett, Minister of Economy

11 Dec

Naftali Bennet is the head of the right-wing Bayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party. He was also a member of the security cabinet and the recent coalition as the minister of Economy. His party is so against the peace process that in the past he has advocated annexing 60% of the West Bank. I have written about him before.

At the same time, he is someone who is a real competitor to Benjamin Netanyahu. He is someone who could one day lead Israel’s right. Why do I think that? because I sincerely believe that he truly represents the aspirations and world view of a major part of Israel’s pro-settlement movement.

Do I agree with their world view? no.  But this is a part of Israeli society which can not and must not be ignored. We are all part of the same country, and we must listen to each other.

I strongly recommend watching and listening to Naftali Bennet’s conversation with former US ambassador to Israel Martyn Indyk at the recent Saban Forum.

With thanks to my student Joshua Rodin for alerting me about this interview.

At the UN, Netanyahu was at his weakest

29 Sep

Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the UN tonight.

What was different this time was that his position at home is more precarious compared to recent years. Naftali Benet is gaining on him and his popularity has fallen after the recent war in Gaza. And it could get worst if there is renewed rocket fire against Israel’s southern cities.

So this is why this year he sounded even more despondent than other years regarding the prospects of peace between Israel and Palestine.

But he did not disappoint. I mean who on earth believes him when every year he says he is ready for peace and every year he builds more settlements. This is something which hurts the credibility of Israel’s case abroad, and the peace process. This is not to say the other side is blameless, but nevertheless, the continuous settlement building isolates Israel and makes it hard for its friend to defend its case abroad.

And to try to equate Iran with ISIS? Not many people seem to have accepted his narrative on this topic.

I repeat what I said last year after his UN speech, because it’s still valid:

Israel has a very legitimate case against the Iranian regime’s current nuclear program, it’s just unfortunate that Benjamin Netanyahu has to present it.

Naftali Bennet takes on Netanyahu, and wins

30 Jan

Naftali Bennet, the head of the right wing “Bayit Yehudi” party is up in the polls. According to a new poll conducted yesterday, he would receive 17 seats in the Knesset, if elections were held. He currently has 12.

And what has caused this surge in support? It seems that his recent attack against Netanyahu, for which he was forced to apologize has actually boosted his standing among the voters in Israel.

Bennet publicly attacked Netanyahu after a Times of Israel report “according to which Netanyahu wants Jewish settlers to be given the choice of living under future Palestinian rule in the West Bank if a peace treaty is sealed.”

My thoughts:

First, its important to remember that the Bayit Hayehudi party is much more right wing than Likud.  Among other things, it has advocated annexing 60% of the West Bank.

As we get closer to a possible framework deal with the Palestinians (I emphasize the word possible), we are going to see both the left and the right becoming much more vociferous, combative and active. Yesterday I saw the head of the opposition Isaac Herzog like I have never seen him before at INSS conference. He did not hold back in attacking the right. Very combative.

And now the right in Israel is becoming worried, because a deal with the Palestinians could challenge it politically like it has not been challenged before since it returned to power with Netanyahu.The biggest loser from a deal could be Bennet. In my opinion if a deal is reached with the Palestinians, just like Netanyahu resigned from Likud prior to the Gaza withdrawal in 2005, Bennet is likely to resign as well. He could also get fired if he challenges Netanyahu again, this time with no warning.  He may be popular, but his party will remain marginalized, if a deal goes through. He must be praying that Kerry’s peace efforts fail.

Here is Naftali Bennet challenging the idea that the West Bank is occupied: