The Israeli politician Naftali Bennet’s statement, as a reflection of the values of his party, has made him a “trendy” favourite amongst younger Israelis.
World Bulletin / News Desk
As with most people in Israeli politics Bennet served as an officer in a commando unit in the army. This military career helped him to strengthen his image as a true patriot, and so allowed him to adopt a military-like, straight-forward manner of talking. He certainly doesn’t beat around the bush. He has been quoted as saying: “I killed many Arabs and there is no problem with that”, and that Palestinians are not more than “shrapnel in the butt”. He makes no apologies for his stance where his current campaign slogan “Stop Apologising” is the opposite of the previous slogans of the settler camp, which talked about “settling in the hearts” of everyday Israelis.
This approach has won the hearts of many Israelis under the age of 25, and especially those who were born after 1967, who do not know Israel with a West Bank. During Operation Protective Edge against Gaza this summer Bennet, positioned himself in opposition not only to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but also to the army, which he considered both guilty for not being daring enough, for not going all the way to crush Hamas and occupy the whole Gaza Strip.
What remains is the fact that most Israelis regard the results of the conflict with Hamas as a draw, if not as a full-blown failure and therefore has won a new league of fans in the right-wing camp, not just those in the religious camp-followers only.
Another element that perhaps attracts Israeli voters to this neo-religious party is that in the past 47 years, the settlers and right-wing parties were busy trying to change the reality on the ground so that establishment of viable Palestinian state would be impossible. Now, after settling more than 350,000 Israelis in the West Bank, they feel they have fulfilled this task and are ready to move to the next step: setting an agenda of their own for the future of Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians.
Despite his success the paradox that remains is that Bennet and the camp he represents are not ready to take on the Israeli leadership – and not only because it is impossible to form a government with the predicted 15 seats in the elections next March, especially if you are coming from the extreme-right. But because Bennet is not yet able to formulate an annexation proposal that will be accepted by most Israelis.