Benjamin Netanyahu

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Benjamin Netanyahu

NameBenjamin
Nick NameBibi
DOB21 October 1949
(Age 73 Yr. )

Personal Life

Education Doctorate in Political Science
Religion Judaism
Nationality Israeli
Profession Politician, Economic consultant, Writer, Marketing executive
Birth Place

Physical Appearance

Height 5 feet 10 inches
Weight 78 kg (approx.)
Eye Color Hazel Green
Hair Color White

Family Status

Parents

Father- Benzion Netanyahu

Mother- Tzila Segal

 

Marital Status Married
Spouse

Fleur Cates, English-born Harvard Business School graduate (m. 1981, div. 1984)
Sara Ben-Artzi, Psychologist (m. 1991-present)

Childern/Kids

Daughter- Noa Netanyahu-Roth (with Miriam Haran)
Sons- Yair Netanyahu, Avner Netanyahu (with Sara Ben-Artzi)

Siblings

Brothers- Yonatan Netanyahu (Israel Defense Force Officer), Iddo Netanyahu (Physician)
 

Favourite

Foods Pistachio flavored Ice Cream

Benjamin Netanyahu was born on October 21, 1949, in Tel Aviv, Israel. He joined the Israeli military in 1967, moving into the special operations force that rescued a hijacked airplane at the Tel Aviv airport in 1972. Netanyahu became leader of the right-wing Likud party in 1993 and went on to serve as prime minister for multiple terms. Following the contested 2019 elections, he was indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Background


Benjamin Netanyahu was born on October 21, 1949, in Tel Aviv, Israel and grew up in Jerusalem. He spent most of his teen years living in the Philadelphia area, where his father, noted Jewish historian Benzion Netanyahu, worked as a professor.

In 1967, he returned to Israel to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces' elite unit, "Sayeret Matkal," and took part in a number of military operations, including the dramatic 1972 rescue of a hijacked Sabena passenger jet. Codenamed "Operation Isotope," the rescue was led by future Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Diplomatic Work


Netanyahu returned to the United States that same year and went on to receive degrees in architecture and business administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1976, he was employed by the Boston Consulting Group, but returned to Israel following the death of Yoni, his eldest brother, who was killed while attempting to free hostages from a hijacked Air France airliner in Uganda.

Netanyahu became highly involved in international counterterrorism efforts, which helped launch his political career. After serving in the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. (1982-84), he became the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations (1984-88). During his time at the U.N., he successfully led a campaign to declassify U.N. archives on Nazi war crimes.

Political Success


In 1988, Netanyahu was elected a member of the Knesset (Israel's parliament) by the right-wing Likud party and served as deputy minister for foreign affairs. Five years later, he was elected chairman of the Likud party and its prime minister candidate. In 1996, he was elected prime minister of Israel, defeating incumbent Labor candidate Shimon Peres. Netanyahu served as prime minister until 1999. During his term, he signed the Hebron and Wye Accords, advancing the peace process with the Palestinians. He also expanded government privatization, liberalized currency regulations and reduced deficits.

After resigning from the Knesset following his election loss to his former commander Barak, Netanyahu worked in the private sector and toured on the lecture circuit. He returned to politics in 2002, serving as minister of foreign affairs before becoming minister of finance.

On March 31, 2009, Netanyahu was sworn in as prime minister for the second time, punctuating his victory by establishing a national unity government and calling for a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. In his famous June 2009 address to Bar-Ilan University, he said, "I told President Obama in Washington, if we get a guarantee of demilitarization, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, we are ready to agree to a real peace agreement, a demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state."

Objections to Nuclear Program


However, Netanyahu found himself at odds with the United States in November 2013. He objected to the deal reached between the U.S. and Iran over the latter's nuclear program, with terms that included the reduction or suspension of efforts to enrich uranium in exchange for a loosening of existing sanctions. According to CNN, Netanyahu blasted the deal as "a historic mistake," adding that "sanctions that took years to put in place are going to be eased."

The year 2014 brought great turmoil for the region, with conflict escalating rapidly during the summer between Palestinian military group Hamas and Israel after the killing of three teenagers. The Gaza region was targeted by Israeli forces as a Hamas stronghold, with thousands of rockets fired and international outcry ensuing over the destruction and massive loss of civilian life. In December of that year, Netanyahu fired two of his cabinet members, citing their critiques of the government, and initiated the dissolution of the coalition parliament, with new elections to be held in March of the next year.

In early March 2015, two weeks before his country's elections, Netanyahu addressed a highly partisan U.S. Congress to further critique America's policy on Iran's nuclear program. President Obama continued to defend the plan, with the two leaders having notably different stances on what the end goal for Iran's weapons capabilities should be.

2015 Reelection Amid Controversy


Netanyahu won his country's mid-March elections, defeating Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Union alliance, who focused more on domestic issues during his campaign. The Likud party earned 30 parliamentary suits and was geared to be the head of a coalition government.

Further controversy arose with analysts critiquing the leader's use of anti-Arab rhetoric as voters went to the polls (for which he later apologized), with Netanyahu having also delivered wavering comments about supporting the creation of a Palestinian state. He clarified his statements immediately after the elections and said a two-state solution remained on the table.

Two-State Obstacles


On December 6, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump announced his administration was formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that was criticized by the Palestinian Authority and most member states of the U.N. but praised by Israeli leaders. "The Jewish people and the Jewish state will be forever grateful," said Netanyahu in a video, calling the decision "courageous and just."

Seemingly emboldened by the support, the Israeli Parliament in early January 2018 enacted a new law that required a supermajority vote for the ratification of any peace deal that included ceding part of Jersusalem. Around the same time, the Likud Central Committee produced a unanimous but nonbinding vote to support "free construction and application of Israeli law and sovereignty in all liberated areas of settlement" in the West Bank, effectively calling for the annexation of Israeli settlements on contested land under military jurisdiction.

In January 2020, Netanyahu appeared alongside Trump at the White House in Washington, D.C., as the U.S. president proposed a two-state solution which allowed for Israel's annexation of its West Bank settlements and the creation of a Palestinian capital in East Jersusalem. Netanyahu called the plan "a vision of peace, which is historic."

Investigations and Protests


In August 2017, it was revealed that Netanyahu had been named a suspect in two investigations into allegations of "fraud, breach of trust and bribes." One case involved his acceptance of gifts from two prominent businessmen, while the second centered on his alleged attempt to coerce a newspaper into more favorable coverage of his tenure.

Subsequently, the Likud party sponsored the so-called "recommendations bill" to limit the information made available to the public during investigations and end the practice of police recommending to prosecutors whether to indict suspects.

The bill sparked outrage from critics, who viewed it as a blatant attempt to shield Netanyahu from a potentially unfavorable outcome to the investigations. On December 2, days before parliament was expected to ratify the bill, opponents held a mass demonstration in Tel Aviv that involved an estimated 20,000 protesters. The following day, Netanyahu said he had instructed his political allies to reword the bill so it didn't appear to conflict with his ongoing investigations.

On February 13, 2018, Israeli police released a statement in which they said there was enough evidence from the two investigations to indict Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. However, Netanyahu brushed off the notion that he would be subjected to punishment, saying on TV that he would continue as prime minister and that the allegations "will end with nothing."

One year later, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced that he intended to indict Netanyahu on multiple charges.

2019 and 2020 Elections


Amid the looming indictments, Netanyahu faced a challenge from former army chief Benny Gantz, leader of the centrist Blue and White alliance, in his bid to remain in power as prime minister. On April 10, 2019, following a closely contested race, Gantz conceded defeat to his opponent; however, because Netanyahu was unable to put together a majority coalition, the Knesset voted to dissolve itself and hold another election.

The second national election, held September 17, produced 33 seats for the Blue and White party and 32 for Likud. President Reuven Rivlin gave Netanyahu the first opportunity to form a government, later passing the task on to Gantz, but the inability of both men to gather the necessary support set the stage for a third election.

After easily surviving a primary challenge from Gideon Saar to retain control of his party in late 2019, Netanyahu endured another nail-biter of a national election in March 2020 that left Likud just short of a majority coalition. Israeli lawmakers subsequently backed Gantz to form a government, though negotiations between Blue and White and Likud were complicated by the coronavirus outbreak.

Indictment


On November 21, 2019, Israel's attorney general announced charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust against Netanyahu, who slammed the process as a "witch hunt." After dropping his request for immunity, the prime minister was formally indicted in January 2020.

Prime minister 


First term 

A spate of suicide bombings reinforced the Likud position for security. Hamas claimed responsibility for most of the bombings. As prime minister, Netanyahu raised many questions about many central premises of the Oslo Accords. One of his main points was disagreement with the Oslo premise that the negotiations should proceed in stages, meaning that concessions should be made to Palestinians before any resolution was reached on major issues, such as the status of Jerusalem, and the amending of the Palestinian National Charter. Oslo supporters had claimed that the multi-stage approach would build goodwill among Palestinians and would propel them to seek reconciliation when these major issues were raised in later stages. Netanyahu said that these concessions only gave encouragement to extremist elements, without receiving any tangible gestures in return. He called for tangible gestures of Palestinian goodwill in return for Israeli concessions. Despite his stated differences with the Oslo Accords, Prime Minister Netanyahu continued their implementation, but his Premiership saw a marked slow-down in the peace process.[citation needed]

In 1996, Netanyahu and Jerusalem's mayor Ehud Olmert decided to open an exit in the Arab Quarter for the Western Wall Tunnel, which prior prime minister Shimon Peres had instructed to be put on hold for the sake of peace. This sparked three days of rioting by Palestinians, resulting in dozens of both Israelis and Palestinians being killed.

Netanyahu first met Palestinian President Arafat on 4 September 1996. Prior to the meeting, the two leaders spoke by telephone. The meetings would continue through Autumn 1996. On their first meeting, Netanyahu said: "I would like to emphasize that we have to take into account the needs and the requirements of both sides on the basis of reciprocity and the assurance of the security and well-being of both Israelis and Palestinian alike." Arafat said: "We are determined to work with Mr. Netanyahu and with his government." The talks culminated on 14 January 1997, in the signing of the Hebron Protocol. The signing of the Hebron Protocol with the Palestinian Authority resulted in the redeployment of Israeli forces in Hebron and the turnover of civilian authority in much of the area to the control of the Palestinian Authority.


Netanyahu sitting with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat at the Wye River Memorandum, 1998
Eventually, the lack of progress of the peace process led to new negotiations which produced the Wye River Memorandum in 1998 which detailed the steps to be taken by the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority to implement the earlier Interim Agreement of 1995. It was signed by Netanyahu and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, and on 17 November 1998, Israel's 120 member parliament, the Knesset, approved the Wye River Memorandum by a vote of 75–19. In a nod to the 1967 Khartoum conference, Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasized a policy of "three no(s)": no withdrawal from the Golan Heights, no discussion of the case of Jerusalem, no negotiations under any preconditions.

In 1997, Netanyahu authorized a Mossad operation to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Mashal in Jordan, just 3 years after the two countries had signed a peace treaty. The Mossad team, covering as five Canadian tourists, entered Jordan on 27 September 1997 and injected poison into Mashal's ears in a street in Amman. The plot was exposed and two agents were arrested by the Jordanian police while three others hid in the Israeli embassy which was then surrounded by troops. An angry King Hussein demanded Israel to give out the antidote and threatened to annul the peace treaty. Netanyahu relented to the demands after pressure by US President Bill Clinton and ordered the release of 61 Jordanian and Palestinian prisoners including Sheikh Ahmad Yassin. The incident sent the nascent Israeli-Jordanian relations plummeting.

During his term, Netanyahu also began a process of economic liberalization, taking steps towards a free-market economy. Under his watch, the government began selling its shares in banks and major state-run companies. Netanyahu also greatly eased Israel's strict foreign exchange controls, enabling Israelis to take an unrestricted amount of money out of the country, open foreign bank accounts, hold foreign currency, and invest freely in other countries.


Throughout his term, Netanyahu was opposed by the political left wing in Israel and lost support from the right because of his concessions to the Palestinians in Hebron and elsewhere, and due to his negotiations with Arafat generally. Netanyahu lost favor with the Israeli public after a long chain of scandals involving his marriage and corruption charges. In 1997, police recommended that Netanyahu be indicted on corruption charges for influence-peddling. He was accused of appointing an attorney general who would reduce the charges but prosecutors ruled that there was insufficient evidence to go to trial. In 1999, Netanyahu faced another scandal when the Israel Police recommended that he be tried for corruption for $100,000 in free services from a government contractor; Israel's attorney general did not prosecute, citing difficulties with evidence.

Second term

In 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced support for the establishment of a Palestinian state – a solution not endorsed by prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom she had earlier pledged the United States' cooperation. Upon the arrival of President Obama administration's special envoy, George Mitchell, Netanyahu said that any furtherance of negotiations with the Palestinians would be conditioned on the Palestinians recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

During President Obama's Cairo speech on 4 June 2009 in which Obama addressed the Muslim world, Obama stated, among other things, "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements." Following Obama's Cairo speech Netanyahu immediately called a special government meeting. On 14 June, ten days after Obama's Cairo speech, Netanyahu gave a speech at Bar-Ilan University in which he endorsed a "Demilitarized Palestinian State", though said that Jerusalem must remain the unified capital of Israel. Netanyahu stated that he would accept a Palestinian state if Jerusalem were to remain the united capital of Israel, the Palestinians would have no army, and the Palestinians would give up their demand for a right of return. He also argued the right for a "natural growth" in the existing Jewish settlements in the West Bank while their permanent status is up to further negotiation. Senior Palestinian official, Sereb Ereket, said that the speech had "closed the door to permanent status negotiations" due to Netanyahu's declarations on Jerusalem, refugees and settlements.[better source needed]

Third term
 


The 2013 election returned Netanyahu's Likud Beiteinu coalition with 11 fewer seats than the combined Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu parties had going into the vote. Nevertheless, as leader of what remained the largest faction in the Knesset, Israeli president Shimon Peres charged Netanyahu with the task of forming the Thirty-third government of Israel. The new coalition included the Yesh Atid, The Jewish Home and Hatnuah parties and excludes the ultra-Orthodox parties at the insistence of Yesh Atid and the Jewish Home.

During Netanyahu's third term, he continued his policy of economic liberalization. In December 2013, the Knesset approved the Business Concentration Law, which intended to open Israel's highly concentrated economy to competition to lower consumer prices, reduce income inequality, and increase economic growth. Netanyahu had formed the Concentration Committee in 2010, and the bill, which was pushed forward by his government, implemented its recommendations. The new law banned multi-tiered corporate holding structures, in which a CEO's family members or other affiliated individuals held public companies which in turn owned other public companies, and who were thus able to engage in price gouging. Under the law, corporations were banned from owning more than two tiers of publicly listed companies and from holding both financial and non-financial enterprises. All conglomerates were given four to six years to sell excess holdings. Netanyahu also began a campaign of port privatization to break what he viewed as the monopoly held by workers of the Israel Port Authority, so as to lower consumer prices and increase exports. In July 2013, he issued tenders for the construction of private ports in Haifa and Ashdod. Netanyahu has also pledged to curb excess bureaucracy and regulations to ease the burden on industry.

In April 2014, and again in June, Netanyahu spoke of his deep concerns when Hamas and the Palestinian Authority agreed and then formed a unity government, and was severely critical of both the United States and European governments' decision to work with the Palestinian coalition government. He blamed Hamas for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June 2014, and launched a massive search and arrest operation on the West Bank, targeting members of Hamas in particular, and over the following weeks hit 60 targets in Gaza. Missile and rocket exchanges between Gaza militants and the IDF escalated after the bodies of the teenagers, who had been killed almost immediately as the government had good reasons to suspect, were discovered on 30 June 2014. After several Hamas operatives were killed, either in an explosion or from an Israeli bombing, Hamas officially declared it would launch rockets from Gaza into Israel, and Israel started Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip, formally ending the November 2012 ceasefire agreement. The prime minister did a round of television shows in the United States and described Hamas as "genocidal terrorists" in an interview on CNN. When asked if Gazan casualties from the operation might spark "a third intifada", Netanyahu replied that Hamas was working towards that goal.

 

Fourth term

In the 2015 election, Netanyahu returned with his party Likud leading the elections with 30 mandates, making it the single highest number of seats for the Knesset. President Rivlin granted Netanyahu an extension until 6 May 2015 to build a coalition when one had not been finalized in the first four weeks of negotiations. He formed a coalition government within two hours of the midnight 6 May deadline. His Likud party formed the coalition with Jewish Home, United Torah Judaism, Kulanu, and Shas.

On 28 May 2015, Netanyahu announced that he would be running for an unprecedented fifth term as prime minister in the next general election and that he supports Likud's current process of picking MK candidates.

In August 2015, Netanyahu's government approved a two-year budget that would see agricultural reforms and lowering of import duties to reduce food prices, deregulation of the approval process in construction to lower housing costs and speed up infrastructure building, and reforms in the financial sector to boost competition and lower fees for financial services. In the end, the government was forced to compromise by removing some key agricultural reforms.

 

Fifth term
 

On 17 May 2020, Netanyahu was sworn in for a fifth term as prime minister in a coalition with Benny Gantz. Against a background of the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel and Netanyahu's criminal trial, extensive demonstrations broke out against him in front of the prime minister's residence. Following this, Netanyahu ordered to disperse the demonstrations using COVID-19 special regulations, limiting them to 20 people and at a distance of 1,000 meters from their homes. However, the exact opposite was achieved; the demonstrations were enlarged and dispersed to over 1,000 centers. By March 2021, Israel became the country with the highest vaccinated population per capita in the world against COVID-19.

After tensions escalated in Jerusalem in May 2021, Hamas fired rockets on Israel from Gaza, which prompted Netanyahu to initiate Operation Guardian of the Walls, lasting eleven days. After the operation, Israeli politician and leader of the Yamina alliance Naftali Bennett announced that he had agreed to a deal with Leader of the Opposition Yair Lapid to form a rotation government that would oust Netanyahu from his position as prime minister. On 13 June 2021, Bennett and Lapid formed a coalition government, and Netanyahu was ousted as prime minister, ending his 12-year tenure.


Sixth term

After the 2022 election, Netanyahu was sworn in as Prime Minister again as the leader of a hardline coalition. He officially started his sixth term on 29 December 2022.

The first months of Netanyahu's sixth term were centered around reforms in the judicial branch, which drew widespread criticism. Critics highlighted the negative effects it would have on the separation of powers, the office of the Attorney General, the economy, public health, women and minorities, workers' rights, scientific research, the overall strength of Israel's democracy and its foreign relations. After weeks of public protests on Israel's streets, joined by a growing number of military reservists, Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant spoke against the reform on 25 March, calling for a halt of the legislative process "for the sake of Israel's security". He was removed from his post by Netanyahu the following day, sparking further mass protests across Israel and ultimately leading to Netanyahu agreeing to delay the legislation for a month, until the next Knesset session after Passover.

Israel refused to send lethal weapons to Ukraine. In June 2023, Netanyahu said that Israel is concerned “with the possibility that systems that we would give to Ukraine would fall into Iranian hands and could be reverse engineered, and we would find ourselves facing Israeli systems used against Israel.”

Personal Life


Netanyahu was born in Tel Aviv, to Benzion Netanyahu (original name Mileikowsky) and Tzila (Cela; née Segal). His mother was born in 1912 in Petah Tikva, then in Ottoman Palestine, now Israel. Though all his grandparents were born in the Russian Empire (now Belarus, Lithuania and Poland), his mother's parents emigrated to Minneapolis in the United States. He is related to Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna (the Vilna Gaon) on his paternal side.

Netanyahu's father, Benzion, was a professor of Jewish history at Cornell University, editor of the Encyclopaedia Hebraica, and a senior aide to Ze'ev Jabotinsky, who remained active in research and writing into his nineties. Regarding the Palestinian people, he stated: "That they won't be able to face [anymore] the war with us, which will include withholding food from Arab cities, preventing education, terminating electrical power and more. They won't be able to exist, and they will run away from here. But it all depends on the war, and whether we will win the battles with them."

Netanyahu's paternal grandfather was Nathan Mileikowsky, a leading Zionist rabbi and JNF fundraiser. Netanyahu's older brother, Yonatan, was killed in Uganda during Operation Entebbe in 1976. His younger brother, Iddo, is a radiologist and writer. All three brothers served in the Sayeret Matkal reconnaissance unit of the Israel Defense Forces.

Marriages and relationships

Netanyahu lighting Hanukkah candles on the first night in the prime minister's office in Jerusalem with his wife, Sara and their sons, Yair and Avner, 1996
Netanyahu has been married three times. Netanyahu's first marriage was to Miriam Weizmann, whom he met in Israel. Weizmann lived near Yonatan Netanyahu's apartment in Jerusalem, where Netanyahu was based during his military service. By the time Netanyahu's service was finished, Weizmann had completed her own military service and a degree in chemistry from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1972, they both left to study in the United States, where she enrolled in Brandeis University, while Netanyahu studied at MIT. They married soon afterward. The couple had one daughter, Noa (born 29 April 1978).

In 1978, while Weizmann was pregnant, Netanyahu met a non-Jewish British student named Fleur Cates at the university library, and began an affair. His marriage ended in divorce soon afterward, when his wife Miriam discovered the affair. In 1981, Netanyahu married Cates, and she converted to Judaism. After moving with Netanyahu to Israel, Cates sued for divorce in 1988.

His third wife, Sara Ben-Artzi, was working as a flight attendant on an El Al flight from New York to Israel when they met. She was in the process of completing a master's degree in psychology. The couple married in 1991. They have two sons: Yair (born 26 July 1991), a former soldier in the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, and Avner (born 10 October 1994), a national Bible champion and winner of the National Bible Quiz for Youth in Kiryat Shmona and former soldier in the IDF Combat Intelligence Collection Corps.

In 1993, Netanyahu confessed on live television to having had an affair with Ruth Bar, his public relations adviser. He said that a political rival had planted a secret video camera that had recorded him in a sexually compromising position with Bar, and that he had been threatened with the release of the tape to the press unless he quit the Likud leadership race. Netanyahu and Sara repaired their marriage, and he was elected to the leadership of Likud. In 1996, the media reported that he had a 20-year friendship with Katherine Price-Mondadori, an Italian-American woman. During the 1990s, Netanyahu criticized this media intrusion into his private life, claiming that political rivals including David Levy had hired spies to try to gather evidence of alleged affairs. Generally, the Israeli public are not interested in their politicians' private lives and would prefer they remained private.

On 1 October 2009, his daughter Noa Netanyahu-Roth (married to Daniel Roth) gave birth to a boy, Shmuel. In 2011, Noa and her husband Daniel had a second son named David, and in 2016 had a daughter. Noa is a baalat teshuva (someone born to a secular family who returned to Orthodox Judaism) and lives in Mea Shearim with her family.