Benjamin Netanyahu was born in 1949 in Tel Aviv, and grew up in Jerusalem. During his high school years, his family moved to the United States, where his father Dr. Ben-Zion Netanyahu was offered an academic post. Upon his return to Israel in 1967, he was drafted to the Israeli Army, and served 5 years in the elite Sayeret Maktal unit. He took part in several military operations, including the famed hostage rescue aboard the hijacked "Sabena" flight in 1972. During the same year he received a decoration for command of an operation from the late IDF chief-of-staff Motta Gur. He participated in the Yom Kippur war as a reserve officer and was promoted to the rank of captain.
Following his army service, Netanyahu enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he matriculated with a BS in Architecture. He remained at MIT for his graduate studies where he earned an MBA from the Sloan School of Management. As a student, he also pursued studies in political science both at MIT and at neighboring Harvard. Between 1976-1982, Netanyahu worked in the private sector, for the Boston Consulting Group, and later as a member of senior management for RIM Industries Ltd.
Netanyahu was appointed Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. in 1982. In 1984 he was appointed the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, where he served for four years. During this period, he was known for his determined and tenacious support of the Israeli effort to influence international public opinion. He successfully led an effort to permit public access to the UN Nazi war criminals archive, which up to that time had been classified.
Upon his return to Israel in 1988, Netanyahu was elected to the Knesset as a Likud MK, and served as Deputy Foreign Minister. During the 1991 Gulf War, Mr. Netanyahu was a prominent representative of Israel in the international arena. Later that year, he was a senior member of the Israeli delegation to the Madrid peace conference. He was also a member of the first American-Israeli Committee for Strategic Cooperation.
In 1993, Netanyahu was elected to lead the Likud party, replacing former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, and to serve as Leader of the Opposition. In 1996, he was elected Prime Minister of Israel. During his tenure as Prime Minister, Netanyahu pursued a firm policy against terror, while working to propel the peace process. He and his government worked hard to reach balanced agreements with the Palestinians based on the principle of Reciprocity. By the end of his 3-year term, the level of terrorism in Israel had declined drastically. On the economic front, Netanyahu liberalized the foreign-currency exchange, accelerated the privatization of government-held companies, and reduced the deficit. During his time in office, foreign investment in the Israeli High-Tech industry reached record levels of billions of dollars a year.
After leaving office in 1999, Netanyahu served as a consultant for Israeli High-Tech companies. He was a highly sought-after speaker in various forums around the world and maintained a rigorous lecturing schedule.
Netanyahu returned to public life in 2002 first as Foreign Minister and in 2003 as Finance Minister in the Sharon Government. In this position, he encouraged growth by reducing the public sector and strengthening private enterprise. His policy included reducing government spending, lowering taxes, limiting government handouts, and eliminating monopolies, renewing privatization and pension reform. The U.S. government as well as international financial institutions such as credit rating companies and the IMF lauded these actions. As a result, the decline in the Israeli economy was reversed, unemployment was reduced, and growth restored. The Israeli economy, having shrunk by 1% in the years 2001 and 2002, grew by 4.2% in 2004.
President Peres asked Likud-leader Netanyahu to form a government. Netanyahu was sworn in as Prime Minister for the second time on March 31, 2009.
Four days before the March 18, 2015 vote, Netanyahu looked all but down for the count, with the last opinion polls giving the center-left Zionist Union a four-seat lead – enough not only to win but potentially to form a governing coalition. Even Netanyahu, a veteran campaigner who has emerged victorious from three elections in the past, seemed to think his days were numbered, saying there was a "real danger" he would lose and calling on his right-wing base to turn out. But in the final three days of campaigning – and on the day of the vote itself – "Bibi" went on a tear, giving more interviews than he has in years and making a series of right-wing pledges designed to attract nationalist voters.
Culminating a two-year police investigation, Israel Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced 28 February 2019 his intention to indict Netanyahu on bribery, breach of trust and fraud charges. The prime minister is suspected of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of gifts from billionaires — including expensive champagne and cigars — and doing favors for an Israeli media magnate in exchange for favorable coverage in newspapers and the internet. The justice ministry must hold a hearing to give Netanyahu a chance to defend himself before formal charges are filed — a process that could take months.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing indictment for alleged corruption, said he will lead Israel for "many more years." "Don't believe all the spin," Netanyahu told Israelis during a televised address Thursday. "But it's up to you. It's not up to the civil servants. It's not up to the television studios. It's not up to the pundits and journalists." Echoing his close friend and ally U.S. President Donald Trump, Netanyahu called the case against him a political "witch hunt."
Netanyahu was indicted 21 November 2019 on corruption charges, raising more uncertainty over who will ultimately lead a country mired in political chaos after two inconclusive elections this year. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced the decision in a statement. The charges included bribery, breach of trust, and fraud. Netanyahu vehemently denied all the allegations, calling the corruption investigation a "witch-hunt" and alleging it has been motivated by his enemies' desire to force him from office. Israeli law does not require Netanyahu to step down from the post of prime minister if indicted. The entire process of an indictment and trial could take two years.
As prime minister, he would only be forced to resign from the post if he is eventually convicted, where he could face up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine for bribery charges alone, while fraud and breach of trust carry a prison sentence of up to three years. Netanyahu seemed likely to end up in prison like his predecessor Ehud Olmert, because Israel is far more likely to punish its leaders for corruption than for war crimes.
The right-winger Netanyahu, who had been in power since 2009, was Israel's longest-serving prime minister and dominated the country's political scene. on 13 June 2021 Netanyahu’s 12-year tenure as Israeli prime minister came to an end, as the country’s parliament on Sunday approved a new coalition government led by right-wing nationalist Naftali Bennett. Bennett led an unlikely alliance of left-wing, centrist and right-wing parties, as well as a party that represents Palestinian citizens of Israel, who account for 21 percent of the country’s population. The parties have little in common apart from a desire to unseat Netanyahu.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett sent a message to opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu which stipulated that Netanyahu must leave the official prime ministerial residence at Balfour Street in Jerusalem within two weeks, N12 reported 18 June 2021t. In addition, N12 also reported that the Yesh Atid MK Vladimir Beliak will propose a new amendment next week to guarantee that outgoing prime ministers will not vacate the official residence any later than 14-days after the swearing in of a new government. In 1999, after losing the election to Ehud Barak, Netanyahu and his wife Sara took six weeks before vacating the residence.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|