BENJAMIN NETANYAHU (1949 - ), is the current Chairman of the Likud and Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Netanyahu was also Prime Minister between 1996 and 1999 and was Chairman of the Likud from 1993-99. He served as finance minister from 2002-05, and was Israel's ambassador to the U.N. from 1984-88. His father Ben Zion Netanyahu served as personal secretary to Ze'ev Jabotinsky and is a distinguished historian of Jewish history. His brother, Yoni Netanyahu, was killed during Israel's raid on Entebbe.
Netanyahu was born in 1949 in Tel Aviv, and grew up in Jerusalem. During his high school years, his family moved to the United States, where his father Dr. Ben-Zion Netanyahu was offered an academic post.
Upon his return to Israel in 1967, he was drafted to the Israeli Army, and served 5 years in the elite Sayeret Maktal unit. He took part in several military operations, including the famed hostage rescue aboard the hijacked "Sabena" flight in 1972. During the same year he received a decoration for command of an operation from the late IDF chief-of-staff Motta Gur. He participated in the Yom Kippur war as a reserve officer and was promoted to the rank of captain.
Following his army service, Netanyahu enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he matriculated with a BS in Architecture. He remained at MIT for his graduate studies where he earned an MBA from the Sloan School of Management. As a student, he also pursued studies in political science both at MIT and at neighboring Harvard.
Between 1976-1982, Netanyahu worked in the private sector, for the Boston Consulting Group, and later as a member of senior management for RIM Industries Ltd.
Both in 1979 and 1984, Netanyahu organized international conferences on anti-terrorism, which emphasized the need to oppose terror organizations and the regimes that supported them. Former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz wrote that Netanyahu's public activism and authorship of books on terrorism had a profound effect on the formation of American foreign policy in response to international terrorism.
Netanyahu was appointed Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. in 1982. In 1984 he was appointed the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, where he served for four years. During this period, he was known for his determined and tenacious support of the Israeli effort to influence international public opinion. He successfully led an effort to permit public access to the UN Nazi war criminals archive, which up to that time had been classified.
Upon his return to Israel in 1988, Netanyahu was elected to the Knesset as a Likud MK, and served as Deputy Foreign Minister. During the 1991 Gulf War, Mr. Netanyahu was a prominent representative of Israel in the international arena. Later that year, he was a senior member of the Israeli delegation to the Madrid peace conference. He was also a member of the first American-Israeli Committee for Strategic Cooperation.
In 1993, Netanyahu was elected to lead the Likud party, replacing former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, and to serve as Leader of the Opposition. In 1996, he was elected Prime Minister of Israel.
During his tenure as Prime Minister, Netanyahu pursued a firm policy against terror, while working to propel the peace process. He and his government worked hard to reach balanced agreements with the Palestinians based on the principle of Reciprocity. By the end of his 3-year term, the level of terrorism in Israel had declined drastically.
On the economic front, Netanyahu liberalized the foreign-currency exchange, accelerated the privatization of government-held companies, and reduced the deficit. During his time in office, foreign investment in the Israeli High-Tech industry reached record levels of billions of dollars a year.
After leaving office in 1999, Netanyahu served as a consultant for Israeli High-Tech companies. He was a highly sought-after speaker in various forums around the world and maintained a rigorous lecturing schedule.
Netanyahu returned to public life in 2002 first as Foreign Minister and in 2003 as Finance Minister in the Sharon Government. In this position, he encouraged growth by reducing the public sector and strengthening private enterprise. His policy included reducing government spending, lowering taxes, limiting government handouts, and eliminating monopolies, renewing privatization and pension reform. The U.S. government as well as international financial institutions such as credit rating companies and the IMF lauded these actions. As a result, the decline in the Israeli economy was reversed, unemployment was reduced, and growth restored. The Israeli economy, having shrunk by 1% in the years 2001 and 2002, grew by 4.2% in 2004.
Netanyahu has authored a number of books that have been published in Hebrew, English, and at times also Russian, French, Arabic, Japanese, and other languages:
- "Letters to Yoni" (1978) editor and co-author with his brother Iddo
- "International Terrorism: Challenge and Response" (1979), editor
- "Terrorism: How the West Can Win" (1987), editor
- "A Place Among the Nations" (1993)
- "Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic And International Terrorism" (1995)
Benjamin Netanyahu is married to Sarah, a psychologist by profession, now working in the Jerusalem Psychological Services.
Mr. Netanyahu has 3 children. The Netanyahu family resides in Jerusalem.