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The unorthodox Israeli settlement leader - who isn't even a settler

Naftali Bennett, who lives in an affluent suburb of Tel Aviv, is a driving force behind Netanyahu's decision not to extend the Israeli settlement freeze.

Naftali Bennett, pictured here outside his home in the affluent Tel Aviv suburb of Raanana, is a hi-tech entrepreneur turned unorthodox leader of Israel's settlement movement.

Joshua Mitnick

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It's no surprise that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision not to extend the Israeli settlement freeze this week was due in large part to pressure from settlers.

But the man some credit as the driving force behind Mr. Netanyahu's controversial move is not the stereotypical settler. In fact, Naftali Bennett – director general of the umbrella settler leadership group, the Yesha Council – is not even a settler at all.

Sitting on his back patio in the affluent Tel Aviv suburb of Raanana earlier this month, Mr. Bennett demonstrated his ability to shore up political support for Israeli settlements in the West Bank. He fed talking points by phone to settler activists at a function of the prime minister's ruling Likud Party, in one of many efforts that culminated in Israel overriding US requests for an extension of the freeze.


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