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Who is Naftali Bennett? Meet Israel’s new prime minister

Who is Israel’s next leader? Where does he stand on key issues?

Israel’s new prime minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem.
Naftali Bennett, Israel’s new prime minister, raises his hand during a Knesset session in Jerusalem on Sunday, June 13, 2021.
Ariel Schalit, Associated Press

Naftali Bennett became Israel’s new prime minister following a parliamentary confirmation vote on Sunday. The Jewish ultranationalist made his name in tech before delving into the realm of Israeli politics, Axios reported.

  • Bennett replaces former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who led the country for 12 years — the longest tenure of any Israeli prime minister, according to NPR.
  • Bennet enters office as the leader of a majority coalition involving right-, center- and left-wing parties that united to remove Netanyahu, The Associated Press reported.

Meet Israel’s newest leader — and what his leadership means for the country.

Who is Naftali Bennett?

At 49 years old, Bennett is a father of four and a comparatively young politician in Israel, per NPR. Bennett has made his name and millionaire fortune in the tech industry, beginning a startup in 1999 while still in school.

  • Cyota, Bennett’s tech startup, provides cybersecurity and anti-fraud solutions to banks, Axios reported. The company sold for $145 million in late 2005.
  • Bennett is the first venture capitalist-backed tech founder to become a head of state, according to Axios. His leadership may serve as an example for other tech entrepreneurs to enter politics.

In his Israeli military service, Bennett served in an elite commando unit, according to NPR. He briefly headed an organization that led settlements in the West Bank. Since entering politics, he has served as defense minister and education minister.

  • For two years, Bennett served as Netanyahu's chief of staff but left the post following a mysterious falling out, according to the AP.

Bennett, an Orthodox Jew, is the first Israeli prime minister to regularly wear a kippa, the skullcap worn by observant Jews, the AP reported.

Where does Bennett stand on key issues?

Bennett has long positioned himself as further right-wing than Netanyahu. His party, the Yamina party, is a Jewish ultranationalist party. He takes a hard stance against the creation of a Palestinian state, supporting the settlement movement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, per NPR.

  • Considering his background, Bennett is expected to support Israel’s tech sector, Axios reported.

However, according to the AP, Bennett has shown himself to be a pragmatic politician. He originally vowed never to partner with Yair Lapid, a centrist politician who led the coalition formation, yet did so to become prime minister.