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Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu.
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Benjamin Netanyahu.

(1949-) Israeli politician, Prime Minister 1996-1999 and since 2009, Foreign Minister 2002-2003, Finance Minister 2003-2006.
Netanyahu won the elections of May 29, 1996 in the race with ruling prime minister Shimon Peres. He gained 50,4% against Peres' 49,5 (29,457 votes in difference), and formed his government on June 23.
Netanyahu was the first prime minister to be elected in direct elections and he seemed quickly to be overruling some of his ministers. The result was that his government slowly fell apart, and after about 2,5 years he was left with little effective power. He decided to have early elections.
In the early elections of May 17, 1999, Netanyahu lost with a clear margin to Ehud Barak of the Labour Party: 44% to 56%.
Netanyahu's high profile in security issues was moulded by his, and even more, his family's, participation in military actions. His brother had been killed in 1976 in an anti-military campaign in Uganda. Netanyahu had himself been very active in international work against terrorism, and reigned as one of the major authorities on this field. All this was common knowledge to Israelis.
Netanyahu's personality is important to his political success. Despite a private life with a handful of women scandals, he managed to clear the air, even with the most conservative groups in Israel, when he publicly admitted to have committed adultery, but underlined that this would not be repeated. Netanyahu has a good appearance on the TV-screen and he is young (the youngest prime minister of Israel ever) .
Netanyahu is more a tactician than an ideologist. He has been very harsh in his statements on Palestinians, Arafat and the peace process, and he appears to be to be more confrontational than even Ariel Sharon. His government period brought few positive results for the peace process in the Middle East.

1949 Oct. 21: Born in Israel.
1963: The Netanyahu family moved to USA. Benjamin got his schooling here, as well as idiomatic knowledge of English.
1967: Returned to Israel, where he served his military service in elite patrols.
1972: Leader of the raid against hijackers on the Ben-Gurion Airport. Later the same year he returned to USA, where he started his education at the MIT.
1973: Back in Israel.
1976: The brother, Jonathan, gets killed when leading an action against airplane hijackers in Entebbe, Uganda. This incident formed Netanyahu personally, as well as people's impression of his family.
1979: Started working as a marketing manager in a furniture company. Stayed here until 1982.
1982: Worked as a deputy chief of the Israeli ambassador in USA.
1984: Became permanent representative for Israel to the UN.
1988: Becomes deputy minister of foreign affairs. This period put Netanyahu well into Israeli conscience through his TV-profile during the Gulf War, as well as the following negotiations in Madrid.
1991: Netanyahu strengthens his position in the Likud Party, and got the position of prime minister candidate.
1993: Issued the book A Place among the Nations.
1995: Opposed criticism on his adultery, through admitting the facts and promising penance.
1996 May 29: Wins the prime minister elections.
June 23: Forms the new government.
1999 May 17: Netanyahu loses the prime minister elections to his only contender Ehud Barak.
June: Netanyahu steps down as prime minister.
2000 December: Claims interest in running as a candidate in the forthcoming prime minister elections. Prior to this, polls had shown that he had more support than any other possible candidate. But a Likud party in the Knesset with only 19 seats, was considered as too little for him to form an effective government.
2002 November 6: Is appointed foreign minister in the resigning government of Sharon, continuing until 2003.
2009 March 31: Becomes prime minister.

By Tore Kjeilen