Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu (; Hebrew: בִּנְיָמִין נְתַנְיָהוּ ; born 21 October 1949) is an Israeli politician who served as the ninth prime minister of Israel from 1996 t...
Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu (; Hebrew: בִּנְיָמִין נְתַנְיָהוּ ; born 21 October 1949) is an Israeli politician who served as the ninth prime minister of Israel from 1996 to 1999 and again from 2009 to 2021. He is expected to return as prime minister following the 2022 Israeli legislative election. He is currently serving as Leader of the Opposition and Chairman of Likud – National Liberal Movement. Netanyahu is the longest-serving prime minister in the country's history, having served for a total of 15 years. He was also the first prime minister to be born in Israel after its Declaration of Independence.Born in Tel Aviv to secular Jewish parents, Netanyahu was raised both in Jerusalem, and for a time in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States. He returned to Israel in 1967 to join the Israel Defense Forces. He became a team leader in the Sayeret Matkal special forces and took part in several missions, achieving the rank of captain before being honorably discharged. After graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Netanyahu became an economic consultant for the Boston Consulting Group. He moved back to Israel in 1978 to found the Yonatan Netanyahu Anti-Terror Institute. From 1984–1988, Netanyahu was Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations. In 1993, he was elected as the chairman of Likud, becoming Leader of the Opposition. He went on to defeat the incumbent prime minister Shimon Peres at the 1996 election, the first in which the Prime Minister was elected directly by popular vote, and became Israel's youngest-ever prime minister. After serving a single term, Netanyahu and Likud were heavily defeated in the 1999 election by Ehud Barak's One Israel party; Netanyahu chose to retire from politics entirely, and entered the private sector. Several years later, after his successor as Likud Chairman, Ariel Sharon, became prime minister, Netanyahu was convinced to return to politics, and served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Finance. As finance minister, Netanyahu initiated major reforms of the Israeli economy that were credited by commentators as having significantly improved Israel's subsequent economic performance. Netanyahu later clashed with Sharon, eventually resigning over disagreements regarding the Gaza disengagement plan.
Netanyahu returned to the leadership of Likud in December 2005 after Sharon stepped down to form a new party, Kadima. He was the Leader of the Opposition from 2006 to 2009. Although Likud finished second in the 2009 election to Kadima, Netanyahu was able to form a coalition government with other right-wing parties and was sworn in as prime minister for a second time. He went on to lead Likud to victory in the 2013 and 2015 elections. After the April 2019 election resulted in no party being able to form a government, a second election in 2019 took place. In the September 2019 election, the centrist Blue and White alliance, led by Benny Gantz, emerged slightly ahead of Netanyahu's Likud; however, neither Netanyahu nor Gantz was able to form a government. After continued political deadlock, this was resolved when Likud and Blue and White reached a coalition agreement following the 2020 election. Under the terms of the agreement, the premiership would rotate between Netanyahu and Gantz, in which Gantz was scheduled to succeed Netanyahu in November 2021. In December 2020, this coalition collapsed and a new election was held in March 2021. In his final government, Netanyahu led Israel's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 Israel–Palestine crisis. In June 2021, after Naftali Bennett formed a government with Yair Lapid, Netanyahu was removed from the premiership, becoming Leader of the Opposition for the third time.
Netanyahu made his closeness to Donald Trump, a personal friend since the 1980s, central to his political appeal in Israel from 2016. During Trump's presidency, the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and brokered the Abraham Accords, a series of normalization agreements between Israel and various Arab states. Since December 2016, Netanyahu has been under investigation for corruption by Israeli police and prosecutors. On 21 November 2019, he was indicted on charges of breach of trust, bribery and fraud. Due to the indictment, Netanyahu was legally required to relinquish all of his ministry posts other than the prime minister position prior to his ousting.