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Bennett, a 40-year-old millionaire who was a senior aide to Netanyahu from 2006 to 2008, is a former commando who sold his anti-fraud software company, Cyota, to U.S. security firm RSA for $145 million in 2005.
He is a likely partner in any future Netanyahu-led coalition government, a prospect that could raise international concern over a further turn to the right in Israel.
Netanyahu has formally embraced the two-state solution, but his expansion of settlements has drawn sharp international criticism in recent months and some Likud lawmakers consistently call for annexation of the enclaves.
Netanyahu is unlikely to adopt Bennett’s annexation plan and bring a diplomatic storm down on Israel. But he could face pressure from Bennett, emboldened by a strong showing for his party and a subsequent cabinet post, to step up settlement construction even further.
Bennett said a Palestinian state in the West Bank would compromise Israel’s security and end up being a base for militants who could fire missiles into the commercial centre of the country from a shorter distance than gunmen who have launched such attacks from Gaza.
“What the world is suggesting is to hand this mountain (the West Bank) over to an enemy who has killed already thousands of Israelis just over the past few years and pray for the best, he said.
“I have four kids living just six kilometres from this big mountain. I’m not going to do it, I’m not going to willingly commit suicide even if the world doesn’t like it,” said Bennett, an Orthodox Jew who resides in an affluent Tel Aviv suburb.
More than 1,000 Israelis have been killed in suicide bombings, shootings, stabbings and rocket attacks by Palestinian militants. Most died during a Palestinian uprising in the previous decade, that engulfed Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.