In just two weeks, Israelis go to the polls for the fourth time in two years. While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be in the running, one man could potentially play kingmaker or even become Israel’s next leader.
Who is that power player?
His name is Naftali Bennett. He served in one of Israel’s elite commando units and made millions as a software entrepreneur. Now head of the Yamina Party, Bennett is poised to play a key role in the upcoming election.
CBN News sat down with Bennett at his campaign headquarters in Ra’anana, near Tel Aviv, and asked how he looks at the electoral map and where does Yamina fit in.
“Because of my unique position in the political scene where I don’t belong to any of the blocks. neither the pro-Bibi or anti-Bibi block, I’ve got the ability and leverage to form a stable right wing government that will represent the majority of Israelis which are right of center but they also want change,” Bennett told CBN News.
The upcoming election – like the past three – is a complicated political puzzle that revolves around Netanyahu.
Even though Netanyahu and his Likud Party will likely gain the most seats in the election, several parties have vowed they won’t serve with him. That narrows his options to form a coalition.
Bennett has kept the door open for joining Likud in a right-wing government. That puts him in the position of a likely kingmaker, possibly propelling him to the office of prime minister.
He tells CBN News he feels up to the job.
“I’m ready to take that responsibility. As former Defense Minister, former entrepreneur and CEO of companies, I think I’ve got what’s necessary to pull Israel out of this hole and sort of go to the next phase of Israel as the start-up nation,” Bennett said.
Like most Israeli leaders, Bennett warns about the US re-entering the Iranian nuclear deal.
“The deal is a bad deal. It’s a terrible deal and I want to explain why,” Bennett said.
“It gives a false sense of confidence that you know, we’ve got Iran covered. But it doesn’t. In fact, the deal allows Iran to proceed to the very verge of acquiring not one nuclear weapon, but dozens and all they need to do is press a button and they’ll have within days dozens of nuclear bombs,” he said.
Several parties including Defense Minister Benny Gantz's Blue and White Party, might not even cross the 3.5% electoral threshold to get into the Knesset. That helps parties like Bennett's.
Still, the question remains whether Bennett could unseat Israel’s longest serving prime minister. Voters will answer that question on March 23rd.
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