|Date of birth||25 March 1972|
|Place of birth||Haifa, Israel|
|Party represented in Knesset|
|2013–||The Jewish Home|
|2013–||Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor|
|2013–||Minister of Religious Services|
Naftali Bennett (Hebrew: נפתלי בנט, born 25 March 1972) is an Israeli politician. He is the Economy Minister of Israel, and the leader of the right-wing political party The Jewish Home, as well as the extra-parliamentary movement My Israel.
After serving in the Sayeret Matkal and Maglan special forces units, Bennett became a software entrepeneur. In 1999, he co-founded and co-owned the encryption and network security software company 'Cyota', selling the company in 2005 for $145 million. He has also served as CEO of Soluto, a cloud-computing service, sold in 2013 for a reported $100-130 million. He entered politics in 2006, serving as Chief of Staff for Benjamin Netanyahu between 2006-08. In 2011, together with Ayelet Shaked, he co-founded the My Israel extra-parliamentary movement. In 2012, he won the leadership contest for The Jewish Home, the successor party to Mafdal. His party received 12 seats out of 120 in the 2013 Knesset elections.
Bennett was born in Haifa, one of three sons born to Jim and Myrna Bennett, who are American Jewish immigrants to Israel who had moved from San Francisco after the Six-Day War. His mother's parents moved to San Francisco from Poland twenty years before the outbreak of World War II and some of his mother's other family members who remained in Poland died in the Holocaust. His maternal grandparents made aliyah from the United States as seniors and settled on Vitkin Street in Haifa. His father Jim Bennett’s Jewish roots come from Poland, Germany and the Netherlands. Both of his parents are Modern Orthodox Jews. His parents made aliyah one month after the Six-Day War and were volunteers for a few months at Kibbutz Dafna, where they studied Hebrew. They then settled in the Ahuza neighborhood of Haifa, and became affluent. Jim Bennett was a successful real estate broker turned real estate entrepreneur. His mother Myrna was the deputy director general of the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel's Northern District.
An ambitious child and an avid reader, he is the youngest son in his family. One of his two older brothers Asher is a businessman who now is based in England. His second brother Daniel became an accountant, working for Zim Integrated Shipping Services.
Bennett attended Yavne Yeshiva High-School in Haifa and became a youth leader (Madrich) with religious-Zionist youth organization Bnei Akiva. During his national service in the Israel Defense Forces, he served in the Sayeret Matkal and Maglan units as a company commander and continues to serve in the reserves today, holding the rank of Major. After his IDF service, Bennett went on to receive a law degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
He moved to Upper East Side of Manhattan to build a career as a software entrepreneur. In 1999, he co-founded "Cyota" – an anti-fraud software company and served as its CEO. The company was sold in 2005 to RSA Security for $145,000,000, making Bennett a multi-millionaire in the process. Despite being sold, a stipulation of the deal allowed the Israeli arm of Cyota to remain intact. As a result, 400 Israelis are employed at the company’s Israeli offices in Beer Sheva and Herzliya. Bennett has also served as the CEO of Soluto, a technology company providing cloud-based service that enables remote support for personal computers and mobile devices in 2009, at a time when he and partner Lior Golan were engaged in raising funds for a myriad of Israeli technology startup companies. Soluto had hitherto raised $20 million from investors, including venture capital funds Giza Venture Capital, Proxima Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Index Ventures, TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington's CruchnFund, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt's Innovation Endeavors and Initial Capital. The venture capital funds with which they were negotiating at the time knew and respected Bennett and wanted him to be part of the management of the company. A windfall sale of Soluto for a reported $100-130 million to a US company, was finalized in October 2013.
Since moving on from software entrepreneurship, Bennett returned to Israel and since then moved on towards a career in politics. His wife, Gilat, was originally secular, but now observes the Sabbath and keeps a kosher home. His wife is a professional pastry chef. The couple have four children, and live in Ra'anana. Like his brothers, Bennett is an Orthodox Jew.
After he took part in the Second Lebanon War, Bennett joined the opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu and served as his Chief of Staff from 2006 to 2008. Among attending to other issues, he led a team which developed Netanyahu's Educational reform plan. He also ran Netanyahu's primary campaign to lead the Likud party in August 2007. On January 31, 2010, Bennett was appointed as the Director General of the Yesha Council and led the struggle against the Settlement freeze in 2010. He served in this position until January 2012.
In April 2011, together with Ayelet Shaked, he co-founded My Israel which claims to have 94,000 Israeli members. In April 2012 he founded a movement named "Yisraelim"—i.e., Israelis. The movement's main goals include, increasing Zionism among center-right wing supporters; increasing dialogue between the religious and non-religious communities, and finally - promoting "The Bennett Plan". Subsequently, Bennett resigned from the Likud and joined The Jewish Home party, while announcing his candidacy for the party leadership. At the internal elections, on November 6, 2012, he won about 67% of the votes, and was elected as head of "the Jewish Home". In the 2013 elections Bennett was the main front man of the party, and lead it to an achievement of 12 seats in the 19th Knesset.
Following his election to the Knesset, Bennett had to renounce his U.S. citizenship, which he had acquired through his parents. As a result of the January 2013 elections to the Knesset, Bennett is now Minister of Industry, Trade, and Labor, Minister of Religious Services, Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, and a Member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Naftali Bennett on the Knesset Web Site. As a senior Cabinet Member, he plays a major role in financial, political and security affairs.
On February 2012, Bennett published a plan for managing the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, called "The Tranquilizing Plan". The plan is based in part on parts of earlier initiatives: "peace on earth" by Adi Mintz and the "The Israeli Initiative" of Benny Elon, and relies on the statements of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud party ministers that spoke in favor of unilateral annexation of Judea and Samaria. Bennett opposes the creation of a Palestinian state: "I will do everything in my power to make sure they never get a state."
Bennett suggests a tri-partition of the Palestinian territories. Israel should unilaterally annex Area C, authority over the Gaza Strip should be transferred to Egypt, while Area A and Area B would remain with the Palestinian National Authority, however under the security umbrella of the IDF and Shin Bet to "ensure quiet, suppress Palestinian terrorism and prevent Hamas from taking over the territory". Area C constitutes 62% of the area and approximately 365,000 Israeli settlers. The Palestinians that live in this area would be offered Israeli citizenship or a permanent residency status (between 48,000, according to Bennett, or as many as 150,000, according to other surveys). Finally, Israel would invest in creating roads so Palestinians can travel between Areas A and B without checkpoints, and invest in infrastructure and joint industrial zones, because "Peace grows from below—through people, and people in daily life". Bennett also resists immigration of Palestinian refugees now living outside of Judea and Samaria, or the connection between the Hamas-controlled Gaza and Judea and Samaria. In 2011 Bennett noted that there were about 50 factories in the West Bank industrial region where Israelis and Palestinians work together, and cited this as one workable approach to finding peace between the two sides.
Bennett's suggests that Israel must learn to live with the Palestinian problem without a "surgical action" of separation to two states: "I have a friend who's got shrapnel in his rear end, and he's been told that it can be removed surgically but it would leave him disabled...So he decided to live with it. There are situations where insisting on perfection can lead to more trouble than it's worth". Bennett's "Shrapnel in the butt" thus quickly became widely known as representing his view of the Palestinian problem.
Economy and society
Bennett believes in a free economy and that private businesses are the engine for economic growth. He is in favor of social support of vulnerable populations such as the elderly and disabled. Bennett says Israel needs to break the monopoly of the tycoons, the big unions and the Ministry of Defense, that are, in his opinion, strangling the economy of Israel. In addition, he believes that the key to reducing disparities is equality of opportunity and investment in education in the periphery, to give tools to populations of weaker economic backgrounds. By doing so, Bennett believes weaker populations in Israel will be given the opportunity to succeed professionally and financially. He supports the provision of land to veterans in the periphery, in the Negev and Galilee, to promote a national solution to the problem of "affordable housing" and a more equitable distribution of the population in Israel. Bennett is opposed to the implementation of same-sex marriage in Israel. He has in the past refused to meet with gay Orthodox groups, saying "there are more important issues".
- Ruth Pollard (10 January 2013). "Far right spells danger for Netanyahu". The Age. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
- Brent E. Sasley (18 January 2013). "A Centrist Government in Israel?". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
- Nick Meo (19 January 2013). "Israel's new political star Naftali Bennett's Jewish Home party determined to stop Palestinian state". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
- "21 Knesset seats still up for grabs". Ynet. January 13, 2013. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
- Bennett repeats success with new $100 million exit By David ShamahOctober 30, 2013, Times of Israel
- Israel’s election: A newly hatched hawk flies high
- Final election count: Right bloc ... JPost - Diplomacy & Politics
- Revital Hovel (Jan.18, 2013). "Deconstructing Naftali Bennett: Growing up to be a leader". Haaretz. Retrieved February 26, 2013.
- Naftali Bennett – Official biography page at The Jewish Home
- The Bayit Yehudi
- David Remnick: Naftali Bennett and Israel’s Rightward Shift : The New Yorker
- RSA Security to Acquire Cyota; Creates Leading Provider of Layered Authentication Solutions, RSA Security Inc. Press Release
- "Naftali Bennett could earn $600,000 from Soluto exit". Globes. 10/30/2013. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
- Inbal Orpaz and Orr Hirschauge (Oct. 30, 2013). "Minister Naftali Bennett to pocket millions from sale of Israeli company". Haaretz. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
- David Shamah (October 30, 2013, 4:43 pm). "Bennett repeats success with new $100 million exit". Times of Israel. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
- Naftali Bennett interview: 'There won't be a Palestinian state within Israel' | World news | guardian.co.uk
- Allison Kaplan Sommer (Jan.08, 2013). "Naftali Bennett’s American parents are kvelling with pride". Haaretz. Retrieved February 26, 2013.
- The new great white hope of the religious right? | The Times of Israel
- Opinion: Israeli Election - by Gwynne Dyer
- Naftali Bennett’s American parents are kvelling with pride Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper
- Six new MKs must renounce foreign citizenship | JPost | Israel News
- David Remnick (21 January 2013), The settlers move to annex the West Bank—and Israeli politics. The New Yorker
- Chaim Levinson (17 January 2013), Bennett's West Bank plan ignores existence of about 100,000 Palestinians Haaretz
- Do West Bank Realities Defy Perceptions?, by Gary Rosenblatt, Jewish Week, Tuesday, January 25, 2011.
- Bennett urges 'coexistence' with Palestinians, Lapid calls for 'honest divorce', Jerusalem Post, June 21, 2013.
- ""לשחרר המשק מהחנק של הוועדים, הטייקונים, משרד הביטחון ומינהל מקרקעי ישראל" - בחירות בישראל - דה מרקר TheMarker". Themarker.com. 1997-02-12. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
- Matti Friedman: The new (secular) face of religious Zionism, Times of Israel, December 26, 2012
- "על תכניתה הכלכלית של שלי יחימוביץ, על שכל ישר, ומה בעצם צריך לעשות | הבית היהודי בראשות נפתלי בנט". Baityehudi.org.il. 2012-11-27. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
- Habayit Hayehudi leader: Israel cannot recognize same-sex marriage
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Naftali Bennett.|
- Biography at the Jewish Home website
- Naftali Bennett on Facebook
- Naftali Bennett's channel on YouTube
- Naftali Bennett on the Knesset website
- Naftali Bennett collected news and commentary at The Times of Israel
- Naftali Bennett collected news and commentary at Arutz Sheva
- Naftali Bennett at the Open Directory Project