Israel got its 13th Prime Minister in the form of Naftali Bennett. He ended Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year long reign. Popularly called “King Bibi” by his right-wing supporters and condemned as the “crime minister” by his critics, Netanyahu has been at the helm for an unbroken 12 years!
But, on Sunday, the 120-member Knesset voted in favor of a coalition put together by centrist Yair Lapid. Though this coalition gave only a razor-thin blade margin, the tables turned in favor of Bennett! Hence, the overly happy Netanyahu opponents went ahead with Placards that stated- Bye, Bye Bibi’! Here is something you must know about Naftali Bennett!
Naftali Bennett: An ultra-nationalist and hard-right leader
Naftali Bennett was born to American-born parents. He speaks perfect English! Bennett is known to be a hardline-religious nationalist. His life began with his parents in Haifa. Then he kept moving between North America and Israel!
Bennett served in the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit. After that, he went to law school at Hebrew University. In 1999, he co-founded Cyota, an anti-fraud software company. It was sold in 2005 to U.S.-based RSA Security for $145 million. Throughout, Bennett is curated as a person that is at once modern, religious, and a nationalist.
Once a special forces commando, Bennett leads the right-wing Yamina party. This party has called for Israel to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. He will be Israel’s first Prime Minister to openly lead a religious lifestyle. Also, he is the first prime minister to sport the kippa (a small skullcap worn by religious Jewish men).
Bennett and his Relations with the Benjamin Netanyahu
Naftali Bennett has served as head of the West Bank settler’s council, Yesha. Later, he entered the Knesset in 2013. He also served as cabinet minister of diaspora affairs, education, and defense in various Netanyahu-led governments.
When Netanyahu agreed to slow settlement construction under pressure from President Barack Obama, who tried and failed to revive the peace process early in his first term, Bennett criticized him fiercely! That is where the rift between the two leaders started.
The Impact of this Change on Diplomatic Ties with India
India’s relationship with Israel has always been active. It further grew during Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s administration. This was also a reason for India abstaining from voting against Israel in the United Nations in several resolutions. Also, India and Israel have been engaging in expanding diplomatic ties through bilateral talks and coalition initiatives towards cooperation in agriculture, water accessibility, and oil and natural gas.
However, the change in governance might seem an interesting turn to some, but it actually is not! The Israeli PM has mentioned that he looks forward to increasing cooperation with India and the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi! So, the diplomacy and foreign policies of both countries remain the same!
Though this change might not be good for Palestine and the countries that wanted to bring Israel to a negotiation table. Also, it will be interesting to see how Bennett resolves the issues that arose inside the country. This also includes the differences that have increased between the orthodox Israelis and the liberal, secular Israelis. Tackling the situation both in and out of the country will surely be difficult for the new Israeli PM.