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All You Need To Know About Israel’s New PM Naftali Bennett

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Israel’s new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was sworn in on Sunday. The country has seen a new prime minister for the first time in a decade. Knesset, Israel parliament, appointed the newly elected prime minister in a 60-59 vote. One minister abstained from voting.

Here is all you need to know about the new Israeli PM.

Bennett, 49, has always opposed Palestinian independence and supported Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem. Palestinian observers and other analysts consider his strong position a major hurdle to peace in the region.

It won’t be wrong to say that his stance on Jewish settlements has been stronger than that of erstwhile PM Netanyahu. Bennett had lashed out at Netanyahu after the latter agreed to slow settlement construction after being pressured by President Barack Obama.

Moreover, Bennett was head of the West Bank settler’s council, Yesha, before he entered the Israeli parliament in 2013. Bennett has served as cabinet minister of diaspora affairs, education and defence in various governments led by Netanyahu.

Yohanan Plesner, head of the Israel Democracy Institute who was once Bennet’s colleague in the military, was quoted as saying by NPR that the new prime minister is a “right-wing leader, a security hardliner, but at the same time very pragmatic.”

He predicts that Bennett will hold talks with other factions in pursuit of a ‘common denominator’ during his quest to gain support and legitimacy as a national leader.

Bennett was Netanyahu’s chief of staff for two years, but they had a disagreement after which they parted ways. During his election campaign, Bennet vowed on national TV to never allow Yair Lapid, a centrist and Netanyahu’s main rival, to become prime minister.

But when it emerged that Netanyahu will not be forming a ruling coalition, Bennett did exactly what he had vowed not to do. He agreed to serve as prime minister for two years and will then hand power to Lapid, the maker of the new coalition.

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