Naftali Bennett and the New Hard Line in Israeli Politics


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Amir Levy/Getty Images

In 2013, David Remnick posted a profile of Naftali Bennett. Remnick wrote that Bennett was something new in Israeli politics, a man who “would build a powerful electoral bridge between religious and secular, hilltop outposts in the West Bank and startup suburbs.” Although Bennett was religiously observant, he was cosmopolitan: fluent in Facebook, and as quick to quote “Seinfeld” as was the Talmud. He was a leader of the settlement movement, and although he lived in a modern house in a wealthy Tel Aviv suburb, there was no ambiguity about Bennett’s hard-line stance on the Palestinian issue. He despised the peace process earlier. “I’m going to do everything I can to make sure they don’t get a state,” he told Remnick. “No more illusions.”

Bennett has now dismissed his former boss, Benjamin Netanyahu, from the position of Prime Minister of Israel. Remnick spoke with two writers in the region about this political turmoil. Raja Shehadeh, who is based in Ramallah, says the changing of the guard won’t mean much in the West Bank, where the recent bloody conflict was a propaganda victory for Hamas. Ruth Margalit, who is based in Tel Aviv, says that although the peace movement appears dead, the change of political era – and the presence of the first ever Arab-Israeli party represented in the Knesset – should be seen as an opportunity for change.


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