Who is Tal Gan-Zvi, Bennett's outgoing bulldozer chief of staff?

Over the last 10 years, Gan-Zvi was the bulldozer who led and pushed through the reforms that Bennett outlined.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Chief of Staff Tal Gan-Zvi (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Chief of Staff Tal Gan-Zvi
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

When Tal Gan-Zvi, the chief of staff to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, stepped down in May, it was viewed in the Knesset as an earthquake.

Gan-Zvi was more than just an adviser to Bennett for the last 10 years, since the current prime minister took his first steps into politics and ran in 2012 in the primary race to lead the Jewish Home Party. 

 “Gan-Zvi was Bennett and Bennett was Gan-Zvi,” one person who knows the two well explained.  

The 41-year-old resident of a town in the North, grew up in Haifa, served in the elite IDF Egoz Unit and went on to receive a masters degree in law from Bar Ilan University. He worked for Likud MK Nir Barkat during his first term as mayor of Jerusalem and in 2012 joined Bennett. 

 Naftali Bennett's Chief of Staff Tal Gan-Zvi shakes hands with President Joe Biden in the Oval Office in August 2021. (credit: GPO) Naftali Bennett's Chief of Staff Tal Gan-Zvi shakes hands with President Joe Biden in the Oval Office in August 2021. (credit: GPO)

In 2015, when Bennett became education minister, Gan-Zvi was at his side, given almost exclusive authority to implement his boss’s policies.

He led the break-off from Bayit Yehudi and the establishment of the New Right Party in 2019 and then Yamina in the elections that followed. 

“He is the ultimate loyalist,” one former colleague said. “One of his most important traits is his ability to get things done.”  

Over the last 10 years, Gan-Zvi was the bulldozer who led and pushed through the reforms that Bennett outlined. He was the prime minister’s primary negotiators with the Finance Ministry ahead of the passing of the state budget in November and before that ran the coalition talks that culminated in the formation of the historic government that for the first time brought together parties from the Right, the Left and the active participation of an Arab party in the coalition. 

Tal Gan Zvi stands behind Naftali Bennett (Flash 90/Yaakov Cohen) during a visit to Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky (credit: FLASH 90/YAACOV COHEN)Tal Gan Zvi stands behind Naftali Bennett (Flash 90/Yaakov Cohen) during a visit to Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky (credit: FLASH 90/YAACOV COHEN)

He has hours with former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu under his belt and was in the room for most of the conversations that Bennett held with Netanyahu before the formation of the current government. 

Back when he served as Bennett’s chief of staff in the Education Ministry, he worked directly with the Finance Ministry and secured hundreds of millions of shekels in additional budgets that led to the series of reforms Bennett carried out including smaller classes, a second assistant in kindergartens, math and English programs and more.

Former and current colleagues describe him as smart, creative and a top-notch manager who knows how to focus on the details when needed but also to allow staffers to take the charge. 

Gan-Zvi maintains close ties across the political spectrum. He has never interviewed and shuns publicity for himself and has instead preferred to remain behind the scenes, getting done what was needed. That work built his reputation as a bulldozer with a bright future in business and public service.

A testament to this was the praise he received from across the political spectrum when announcing his decision to step down after a year in office and try his hand in the private sector.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid praised Gan-Zvi and hoped he would return to public service.“Gan-Zvi has decency, values and is a friend,” Lapid wrote on Twitter. “Good luck wherever you go, provided you eventually come back.”