Benjamin Netanyahu (Hebrew: בִּנְיָמִין נְתַנְיָהוּ ; born 21 October 1949) is an Israeli politician who has been Prime Minister of Israel since 2009, having previously held the position from 1996 to 1999. Netanyahu is also the Chairman of the Likud – National Liberal Movement. He is the longest-serving Prime Minister in Israeli history and the first to be born in Israel after the establishment of the state.
Born in Tel Aviv to secular Jewish parents, Netanyahu was raised in both Jerusalem and the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania, United States. He returned to Israel immediately upon graduating high school in 1967 to join the Israel Defense Forces shortly after the Six-Day War. Netanyahu became a team leader in the Sayeret Matkal special forces unit and took part in many missions, including Operation Inferno (1968), Operation Gift (1968) and Operation Isotope (1972), during which he was shot in the shoulder. Netanyahu fought on the front lines in the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, taking part in special forces raids along the Suez Canal and then leading a commando assault deep into Syrian territory. Netanyahu achieved the rank of captain before being discharged. After graduating from MIT with a Bachelor of Science (SB) and a Master of Science (SM), 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, named after his brother Yonatan Netanyahu, who died leading Operation Entebbe.
In 1984, Netanyahu was appointed the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, a role he held until 1988. He was subsequently elected to the Knesset before becoming the leader of Likud in 1993; he then led the party to victory at the 1996 election, becoming Israel’s youngest-ever prime minister. After being defeated in the 1999 election, Netanyahu left politics, returning to the private sector. He later served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Finance in the government of Ariel Sharon, but eventually resigned over disagreements regarding the Gaza disengagement plan. 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 returned to the leadership of Likud in December 2005 after Sharon stepped to form a new party, Kadima. 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 took place in September 2019; in that election, the centrist Blue and White party emerged slightly ahead of Netanyahu’s Likud. However, neither Netanyahu nor Benny Gantz of the Blue and White Party was able to form a government, and Gantz returned the mandate to the president.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 is legally required to relinquish all of his ministry posts other than the prime minister position.