Last evening an alliance of Israeli political parties ended Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12 straight years as prime minister, as parliament voted in a new government led by his former ally, right-wing Jewish nationalist Naftali Bennett. Naftali Bennett was born on March 25, 1972, in Haifa, Israel; he is the son of Americans who emigrated from California to Israel in 1967.
His maternal grandparents had moved to California from Poland in the 1920s. When Naftali was four his family spent two years living in Montreal where his father worked. They moved back to Haifa then moved to New Jersey when he was in the second grade. When he turned ten his family moved back to Haifa permanently.
Naftali Bennett was born on March 25, 1972, in Haifa, Israel; he is the son of Americans who emigrated from California to Israel in 1967
Bennett, a tech millionaire and former Special Forces commander, was sworn in at the helm of an ideologically divided eight-party bloc united only by disdain for the country’s longest-serving prime minister. Netanyahu, 71, in typically combative style, vowed shortly before his defeat that “if it’s our destiny to be in the opposition, we’ll do so with our heads high until we take down this bad government and return to lead the country our way”.
Beloved as “King Bibi” and “Mr Security” by his right-wing supporters and condemned as the “crime minister” by his critics, Netanyahu has long dominated Israeli politics. But on Sunday, a vote in the Knesset legislature following weeks of political drama ended his government with a razor-thin majority of 60 to 59 in the 120-seat chamber. US President Joe Biden swiftly congratulated Bennett.
“I look forward to working with Prime Minister Bennett to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations. Israel has no better friend than the United States,” he said in a statement. Delighted revellers packed a square near the Knesset (parliament) in Jerusalem and poured into Tel Aviv’s city centre to celebrate Netanyahu’s fall. Throngs of people gathered in the coastal city, clapping, cheering and waving flags.
In Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, Netanyahu’s opponents launched into celebrations, waving “Bye-bye Bibi” placards.
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