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.
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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.
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When he does speak of his plan, Bennett does not cite historic and biblical ties to the territory as a reason for annexation, but focuses instead on security in an apparent effort to draw support from more mainstream Israelis.

PEACE M.I.A.

In fact, writing off the conflict with the Palestinians as unsolvable may be part of Bennett’s appeal. Many Israelis, much like Palestinians, are disillusioned with a peace process that began two decades ago but has failed to achieve a final agreement.

For its part, Likud has portrayed Netanyahu as the only experienced leader on the map, able to meet security challenges ranging from Iran’s nuclear programme to rockets controlled by Islamist militants on Israel’s borders.

Netanyahu’s security credentials have partly been boosted by an eight-day war Israel fought with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip in November that has, so far, ended rocket attacks on the Jewish state.

Opinion polls predict Bayit Yehudi will capture about 15 of parliament’s 120 seats, compared with some 34 for Netanyahu’s combined list with former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s party.

Since winning leadership, Bennett has revamped his party with fresh, young faces running under the slogan “something new is beginning”.

The party’s television ads use tongue-in-cheek humour and have so far highlighted the more moderate candidates on the party list, appealing for a return to Jewish values and uniting an ethnically-frought Israeli society.

Bennett said he knows that his annexation plan is “not perfect” but that he believes a way can be found for Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace.

“They (the Palestinians) are not about to evaporate, we’re not about to evaporate. We’re all here stuck together. There isn’t great love in the air but we’re the real people who need to make peace, not America and not the European Union,” he said.


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