Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has recently been in touch with an agent for public speaking engagements abroad, to arrange talks following his departure from Israeli political life, a Jerusalem Post report said on Thursday.
According to the report, the talent agent Jamie Black has spoken to representatives of Jewish organizations around the world who wished to invite Bennett to speak via requests to his bureau, and had presented them with price quotes for as much as $100,000.
Officials from the organizations told the Post that they asked Bennett’s office why they required a middleman to arrange the talks, and that they were told that “Black takes care of international bookings” for Bennett.
Bennett, who still serves as the alternate prime minister, had previously worked with Black when he was not reelected to the Knesset in 2019 and was dismissed from the cabinet. He released a statement in response to the report saying that he does not work with an agent, and that the offers that he has received to be represented are not currently on his agenda.
The law forbids elected officials from receiving any payment for work outside of their official positions, but does not mention future earnings. The law requires that both the prime minister and alternate prime minister must be Knesset members.
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Bennett served as prime minister for a year, and his term ended when the Knesset dissolved itself on July 1. He is not running in the November 1 election, and will end his term as a Knesset member when the new parliament is sworn in two weeks after Israelis go to the polls.
Bennett said in response that his recent appearances before international Jewish audiences have been unpaid and are part of his official role. Bennett has “never charged a single shekel for a speech, lecture or any other activity for the Jewish people, as minister and prime minister,” his bureau said.
Black told the Post that no contract has been signed between his company, Central Park Speakers, and Bennett. Black said they have unofficially contacted a number of Jewish organizations to prepare “if and only when Bennett shall depart from office.” The overtures to the Jewish organizations are at the initiative of Central Park Speakers, said Black.