The Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu was born in 1949 in Tel Aviv and grew up in Jerusalem. His high school years were spent in the U.S., where his father, historian Benzion Netanyahu, was conducting research. Returning to Israel in 1967, Mr. Netanyahu enlisted in the IDF and served in the elite commando unit, Sayeret Matkal. He took part in a number of special operations, including the rescue of hostages in a hijacked Sabena airplane in 1972. In the same year, he was cited for outstanding operational leadership by Major General Mordechai Gur. After his discharge from the IDF in 1972, Mr. Netanyahu fought in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and reached the rank of captain.
Mr. Netanyahu received a B.Sc. degree in Architecture and a M.Sc. in Business Management from MIT. He also studied political science at MIT and at Harvard University.
Between 1976 and 1982 Mr. Netanyahu worked in the private sector, first with the Boston Consulting Group, an international business consultancy, and then in a senior management position at Rim Industries Ltd.
In 1979 and 1984 Mr. Netanyahu initiated two international conferences that emphasized the need to fight terrorist organizations and regimes providing them support. U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz wrote at the time that Mr. Netanyahu’s public advocacy and books on the topic had a decisive influence in shaping American policy on terrorism.
In 1982, Mr. Netanyahu assumed the position of Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC. In 1984 he was appointed Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, a position in which he served at for four years. During this time he became renowned as a tireless champion of Israel’s cause in the international arena. As such, he led the effort for declassification of the United Nations archives on war crimes committed by Nazi Germany.
Returning to Israel in 1988, Mr. Netanyahu was elected to the Knesset on the Likud party list and was appointed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. During the Gulf War he served as Israel’s principal spokesman in the international media. In 1991 he was a senior member of the Israeli delegation to the Madrid peace conference and participated in the first strategic cooperation committee between Israel and the U.S.
In 1993 Mr. Netanyahu was elected Likud party chairman and served as leader of the opposition until being elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1996.
During his first term as Prime Minister, Mr. Netanyahu implemented a policy that combined fighting terror with advancement of the peace process. He signed agreements with the Palestinians that insisted on reciprocity. During his three year term, the number of terror attacks against Israel decreased dramatically.
In the economic realm, Mr. Netanyahu led the liberalization of foreign currency regulations, accelerated privatization of government-owned companies and reduced the budget deficit. During his term in office, the scope of foreign investment in Israeli hi-tech industry reached billions of dollars per year.
After the completion of his term as Prime Minister, Mr. Netanyahu served as a business consultant to Israeli hi-tech companies and was a popular speaker on the global lecture circuit.
In 2002 Mr. Netanyahu returned to politics, first as Minister of Foreign Affairs and then, in the course of 2003, as Minister of Finance. He initiated policies that encouraged growth by reducing the public sector and strengthening the private sector. They included the reduction of government spending, tax cuts, transition from welfare to work, breakup of monopolies, accelerated privatization and the introduction of pension reform. These steps, praised by the U.S. administration, credit rating companies and the IMF, put an end to economic decline, lowered unemployment and spurred growth. An Israeli economy that was shrinking in 2001 grew from 2003 at a 5% rate in the following four years. Unemployment declined and hundreds of thousands of Israelis returned to work.
In 2009, Mr. Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister for the second time.
Mr. Netanyahu has written or edited the following books that appeared in Hebrew and English, with some also translated into Russian, French, Arabic, Japanese and other languages:
Self-portrait of a Hero: The Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu (1963-1976) – editor, together with brother Ido Netanyahu (1978)
International Terrorism: Challenge and Response – editor (1979)
Terrorism: How the West Can Win – editor (1987)
A Place Among the Nations: Israel and the World (1992)
Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorism (1996)
Mr. Netanyahu is married to Sara, a psychologist, and is a father of three. The Netanyahu family lives in Jerusalem.
1967-1972 Soldier and officer in “Sayeret Matkal”, the IDF elite commando unit
1972-1976 B.Sc. in Architecture, M.Sc. in Business Management, MIT
1976-1978 Consultant with the Boston Consulting Group
1978-1980 Head of the Jonathan Institute, an NGO devoted to the study of terror
1980-1982 Member of the senior management team, Rim Industries Ltd.
1982-1984 Deputy Chief of Mission, Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC
1984-1988 Ambassador of Israel to the UN
1988-1991 Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
1991-1992 Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office
1993-1996 Chairman of Likud, leader of the opposition
1996-1999 Prime Minister
1999-2002 Consultant to hi-tech companies
2002-2003 Minister of Foreign Affairs
2003-2005 Minister of Finance
2005-2009 Chairman of Likud, leader of the opposition
2009 Prime Minister