…from the NY Times….
The morning after Donald J. Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election, Naftali Bennett, the energetic leader of a relatively small, Israeli pro-settlement party, exulted before an audience of foreign reporters in Jerusalem, “The era of a Palestinian state is over!”
Now, Mr. Bennett, 49, a former high-tech entrepreneur who insists that there must never be a full-fledged Palestinian state and that Israel should annex much of the occupied West Bank, is poised to become Israel’s next prime minister, replacing Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mr. Bennett, a former ally of Mr. Netanyahu often described as more right wing than the prime minister, is the independently wealthy son of American immigrants. He first entered the Israeli Parliament eight years ago and is relatively unknown and inexperienced on the international stage, leaving much of the world — not to mention many Israelis — wondering what kind of leader he might be.
Shifting between seemingly contradictory alliances, he has been called a right-wing extremist, a pragmatist and an opportunist.
But in a measure of his talents, he has now pulled off a feat that is extraordinary even by the perplexing standards of Israeli politics: He has maneuvered himself into the top office even though his party, Yamina, won just seven of the 120 seats in the Parliament.
A canny and ambitious beneficiary of Israel’s prolonged political morass, Mr. Bennett leveraged his modest but pivotal electoral weight after the inconclusive March election, Israel’s fourth in two years. He entered coalition talks as a kingmaker, and emerged as the one wearing the crown….
image….Credit…Dan Balilty for The New York Times