A Nuisance Named Naftali Bennett

Bennett says his party will 'not be part of a government that freezes construction.' In that case, a promise-keeping Netanyahu will have to show him the door.

Naftali Bennett is a former software entrepreneur and a multimillionaire. He served in the Sayeret Matkal elite commando unit and is the chairman of Habayit Hayehudi. He is the Economy Minister, and one of the leaders of the "new politics." Naftali Bennett is many things, but more than anything else he is a nuisance. A nuisance to a government that seems to be moving in the direction of a peace treaty; a nuisance to a state that is trying, one more time, to put to rest an age-old conflict. Bennett is, in fact, a nuisance to any Israeli citizen who is hoping to live in a better place.

While seeming to be from the mainstream, he is no more than another loyal emissary of his true supporters – the religious settlers. Formally, he is the economy minister, but practically he is the minister for development of the settlements.

Bennett often feigns innocence, sometimes bordering on boorishness and racism. In a Yesha Council of settlements meeting he said he did not understand "those who dare say that the 'occupation corrupts,' and deal all day long with the occupation, the occupation, the occupation. What occupation?" He explained that "A Palestinian state never existed here," and summed it up by comparing the conflict with our neighbors to shrapnel in the butt." During the government debate on releasing Palestinian prisoners he said that "If we capture terrorists, we need to just kill them," adding that "I've already killed a lot of Arabs in my life - and there is no problem with that. Bennett defined the European Union's decision to issue new guidelines on its contacts with settlements as "economic terror," and threatened to halt scientific cooperation with Europe.

On Sunday, in an interview with Arutz Sheva, Bennett promised that tenders for renewed construction in East Jerusalem will be issued in the coming days. Ironically, in Jerusalem of all places, construction was stopped, and we will be unplugging this blockage at this time, Bennett said. We insisted that there be no construction freeze. Construction will continue. New tenders will be issued in the next few days." HIs declaration flew in the face of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's message to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that during the negotiations, Israel will only promote tenders for 1,000 new housing units in the large West Bank settlement blocs.

Bennett doesn't really care for Netanyahu's promises. Together with Habayit Hayehudi's other representative in the government, Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel, Bennett believes his mission is to enforce Jewish sovereignty from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. His party will "not be part of a government that freezes construction in our country, he said. It seems Netanyahu has no choice but to ensure that Bennett, indeed, will no longer be part of this government.

Emil Salman