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Benjamin Netanyahu


Benjamin Netanyahu (also Binyamin, and in Israel commonly Bibi) (בנימין נתניהו) Tel Aviv, October 21, 1949) was the 9th Prime Minister of Israel. A member of the conservative Likud party, he was Prime Minister from April 1996 to May 1999.


Family and personal background

Benjamin was Born to Zila & BenZion Netanyahu. His father, BenZion, is a professor of Jewish History and a former editor of the Hebrew Encyclopedia . His older brother Yonatan is a war hero and was killed during Operation Entebbe in 1976. Like several Isreali prime ministers, he served in the Sayeret Matkal, or special forces.

Netanyahu was married twice before, and has a daughter, Noa, from his first marriage. He is married to Sarah and has two children. He holds an SB in Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an SM in Management from the MIT Sloan School of Management, and has studied political science at Harvard and MIT.

Prime minister (1996-1999)

Netanyahu was elected in 1996 after a wave of Palestinian suicide attacks on Israeli civilians. Peres, who was favored in the polls, could not stop the terror attacks and public faith in him decreased rapidly. On March 3 and 4 1996, Palestinian terrorists carried out two lethal suicide bombings in which 32 Israeli citizens were killed. Those two attacks were the main catalyst in the downfall of Peres, who eventually lost the election due to his inability to stop terrorism against Israelis. Unlike Peres, Netanyahu did not trust Yasser Arafat's good will and conditioned any progress at the peace process on the Palestinian Authority fulfilling their obligations - mainly fighting terrorism. His campaign slogan was "Netanyahu - making a safe Peace".

As Prime Minister he negotiated with Yasser Arafat in the form of the Wye accords , but many claimed he tried to stall any progress. Netanyahu's approach to the peace negotiations was popular.

"If they'll give - they'll get. If they won't give - they won't get".
"יתנו - יקבלו. לא יתנו - לא יקבלו"

This approach seemed to work, as unlike in his predecessor and successor reigns, Netanyahu's reign was relatively quiet with only few Palestinian suicide bombings within Israel. In 1996, Netanyahu and Jerusalem's mayor Ehud Olmert decided to open an exit for the Western Wall tunnel. This sparked three days of riots by Palestinians, resulting in about dozen Israeli and hundred Palestinians killed.

Despite his progress agains terrorism, Netanyahu was hated by most of the elites and the media who are identified with the left-wing in Israel. After a long chain of scandals (including gossip over his wife) and an investigation opened against him on charges of corruption, Netanyahu lost favor with the Israeli public.

After being defeated by Ehud Barak in the 1999 Israeli general elections, Netanyahu temporarily retired from politics.

Political activity after 2000

In 2002 after the Israeli Labor party left power and vacated the position of foreign minister, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appointed Netanyahu as Foreign Minister. Netanyahu challenged Sharon for the leadership of the Likud party but failed to oust Sharon. After the 2003 elections, Netanyahu accepted the post of Finance Minister in a newly formed Sharon coalition. Netanyahu does not currently support the concept of a future Palestinian state, though on two occasions in 2001, he indicated willingness to consider the idea "Likud Central Committee Rejects Palestinian State" (Haaretz Daily, 13MAY2002).

As a Finance Minister, Netanyahu undertook a bold economic plan in order to restore Israel's economy from its low during the al-Aqsa Intifada. The plan involved a move towards more liberalised markets, although it has been seen by many opponents as controversial.

Books and articles


  • A Durable Peace
  • Fighting Terrorism
  • A Place Among the Nations


External Links

Preceded by :
Shimon Peres
Prime Ministers of Israel Succeeded by:
Ehud Barak

Last updated: 11-06-2004 16:55:57