Right-Wing Millionaire Is Surprise of Israel Vote

Naftali Bennett Surges as Netanyahu Tacks to Right

Right of Right: Naftali Bennett opposes the two-state solution, is surging in the polls and forcing Benjamin Netanyahu to take notice.
getty images
Right of Right: Naftali Bennett opposes the two-state solution, is surging in the polls and forcing Benjamin Netanyahu to take notice.

By Reuters

Published January 09, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

A right-wing millionaire who says a Palestinian state would be suicide for Israel has emerged as the surprise success story of the country’s election campaign.

So much so that Naftali Bennett, a former aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is said to have fallen out with his old boss, is now expected to face the Israeli leader across the cabinet table after the Jan. 22 election.

Opinion polls show Bennett’s far-right, and revamped, Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) seems to appeal to many voters, predicting the party will finish third in the parliamentary election that Netanyahu is widely forecast to win.

Commentators have suggested personal relations between the two party leaders may be testy, noting that Bennett’s time in Netanyahu’s office ended on a sour note, though publicly both men have remained tight-lipped on the matter.

Netanyahu has been jarred by Bennett’s chipping away at his Likud party’s support. This week he gave radio interviews, which he rarely does, and called on his traditional supporters not to be swayed by smaller parties and to vote for him.

Dismissing as a “dead end” efforts to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Bennett wants to annex more than half of the occupied West Bank and give autonomy to Palestinians.

“Forming a Palestinian state within the Land of Israel would spell eternal strife and war and bloodshed,” Bennett said in American-accented English, reminiscent of that of his former boss, Netanyahu, in an interview with Reuters.

“How would you feel if the entire world is in consensus that you need to commit suicide. Would you go ahead and commit suicide if you’re sure that it is wrong?” said Bennett, the Israeli-born son of parents from San Francisco.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.