Software entrepreneur turned politician, Naftali Bennett, has been installed as Israel Prime Minister, replacing his mentor and ex-Prime Minister, Israel Netanyahu.
He rode to the position on the platform of a coalition government formed by Bennett and Yair Lapid, founder of centrist political party Yesh Atid.
A vote by Members of Knesset (MK) to approve the new government saw the 12-year reign of Netanyahu come to an end, with 60 MKs in support of the proposed coalition party while 59 opposed.
Bennett’s work in the Israeli government, mostly in Netanyahu’s cabinet, has not been without controversies, as he has expressed his opposition against the creation of a Palestinian state.
Who Is Naftali Bennett?
Born to American parents who immigrated to Israel from the US state of California, Bennett, after living and studying in the US joined the Sayeret Matkal unit, known as Israel’s envious commando unit of its defence force.
In the late 90s, he co-founded a company, Cyota, that dealt in anti-fraud space and other cyber protection software, selling it 2005 for $145 million, and has gone on to serve in CEO in another successful business.
His foray into politics was in 2006 when he was appointed as Chief of Staff to Netanyahu until 2008.
His installment as prime minister makes him the 13th prime minister, while Lapid as the 14th.
Following the swearing, a posse of opposition members shouted “shame” while Bennett was delivering his speech.
In response, he said, “I am proud that I can sit in a government with people with very different views,” according to The Jerusalem Post.
He rejoined, “The loud tone of the screams is the same as the failure to govern during your term in office.”
In 2019, shortly after his appointment as Israel’s defence minister, Bennett ordered the killing of a top member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) after the group had launched several rockets into Israel.
He had said, “These terrorists are not only out to kill Israelis. In fact, they’re killing their own people in Gaza.”
Israel’s response – killing the PIJ’s commander in Gaza – escalated the already taut situation, as 450 rockets were launched from Gaza, according to USA Today.
He is a supporter of the annexation of 60 percent of the contentious West Bank and once spoke about the implementation of a “shoot to kill” directive at the Gaza border.