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The Diehard Right-Wing Multimillionaire Replacing Israel’s Bibi

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02.06.2021

The scandal-plagued era of Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is finally coming to an end—and the man poised to replace him is known for outrageous controversies of his own.

On Wednesday, Israeli Opposition Leader Yair Lapid announced the formation of a coalition government that will catapult 49-year-old tech millionaire Naftali Bennett into the prime ministership. Lapid, a centrist, made an extraordinary sacrifice to establish what he calls “a government of unity and of healing” after a dozen years of Netanyahu rule. He has agreed to serve as foreign minister in a government which will be led by Bennett, a nationalist right-winger, for its first two years.

The Haifa born-and-bred Bennett is the son of San Franciscans who emigrated to Israel after the 1967 war. He became a multimillionaire in 2005, following the $145 million sale of Cyota, an anti-fraud software firm he had co-founded. Eight years later, Bennett renounced his American citizenship after his election to Israel’s parliament.

Alongside Netanyahu, Bennett introduced into Israel’s political sphere the crudely anti-Arab language which helped fuel the 11-day quasi-war that gripped the Holy Land last month, killing hundreds of Palestinian and a dozen Israelis in the most lethal bout of violence the country had seen since 2014.

If a single moment defines Naftali Bennett—whose first step into the political arena was to serve as Netanyahu’s chief of staff—it took place in 2018, with the passage of Israel’s notorious Nation-State Law, widely considered the most overtly racist law ever passed by the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

In July 2018, then Minister of Education Bennett voted for the legislation, which grants Jews “‎an exclusive right to national ‎self-‎determination,” relegating non-Jews to an undefined lesser status, and sparking outrage for enshrining what has been viewed as an apartheid system.

Defending the legislation, Bennett had said that “keeping Israel as the Jewish nation-state does not threaten the future of the Jewish people; it safeguards it. Protecting Jewish traditions, just as they safeguarded our people through two millenniums of exile, is the only way to be sure that Israel can continue to be a strong and vibrant democracy in a........

© The Daily Beast


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