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A Second Chance for Netanyahu

May 6, 2009
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If Netanyahu, 59, affectionately called Bibi, is successful, he will be Israel’s fifth prime minister to be elected to the office twice. His first term was from June 1996 to July 1999, when he was distinguished as the country’s youngest prime minister and was the first one to be born after Israel’s foundation. He is a sabra, native-born. His older brother, Yonatan, was killed in the 1976 Operation Entebbe rescue of hostages from a hijacked plane in Uganda.

Previously, as prime minister, Netanyahu made no progress in negotiations with Yasser Arafat but turned over most of Hebron to Palestinian jurisdiction. He adopted a policy of “three no(s)”: no withdrawal from the Golan Heights, no discussion over Jerusalem, and no negotiations under any preconditions. After being defeated by Ehud Barak in 1999, he temporarily retired from politics. In 2002, PM Ariel Sharon appointed him as foreign minister and in 2003 as finance minister. Netanyahu did not support a future Palestinian state nor Sharon’s Disengagement Plan and resigned in August 7, 2005, shortly before it took place. However, by the end of that year, he was voted in as head of the Likud party and became the leader of the opposition.

Prior to his time in politics, from 1967 to 1973, Netanyahu served in the special forces unit of the Israel Defence Force, which specializes in counterterrorism, deep reconnaissance, and intelligence gathering. He earned a B.S. degree in architecture in 1975 and an M.S. degree from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1977. He also studied political science at Harvard and MIT.

After a brief career in business, Netanyahu was appointed Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. in 1982. Subsequently, he became Israel’s Ambassador to the UN from 1984 to 1988. He was elected to the Knesset (Parliament) in 1988. From 1993 to 1999, he served as leader of the Likud party and was elected as prime minister in 1996.

Some have called Netanyahu “one of the most right-wing, controversial leaders” of Israel. He is, no doubt, the most Americanized of all of Israel’s prime ministers. Here are the stances he takes on the following issues:

  • Opposition to Iran’s nuclear capability: “It’s 1938, and Iran is Germany, and Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs…Believe him [Ahmadinejad] and stop him. This is what we must do. Everything else pales before this.”
  • Hizbullah and Hamas are not Israel’s problem; Iran is, because the two terror groups are controlled by Iran.
  • A united Jerusalem: “No one has the moral right to frivolously and irresponsibly concede the most precious assets of the Jewish nation.”
  • Palestinian refugees: Dismantle the camps and rehabilitate their inhabitants but don’t bring a single refugee into Israel.
  • Approves expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).
  • Palestinian statehood: Focuses more on building the Palestinian economy, but does not openly rule out a Palestinian state. “Real peace will come when a Palestinian leader arises who is ready and able to lead his people to peace.”

Just after the election results were announced, Netanyahu said, “With God’s help, I will lead the next government,” and we pray God will help him.


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