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Benjamin Netanyahu back as Israel PM: Bibi's crazy political journey

Mohammad Bilal
Mohammad BilalNov 04, 2022 | 11:11

Benjamin Netanyahu back as Israel PM: Bibi's crazy political journey

As per the exit polls, Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to be the next PM of Israel. Cover image: Geetanjali, DailyO

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sealed his return to power as the final vote count from elections gave him and his far-right allies a clear majority.

Definitive win: Results showed that with 99 per cent of votes counted, Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party has earned 32 seats in Israel's 120-seat Knesset (parliament) and captured a solid majority with its ultranationalist partners.

The parties backing Yair Lapid won 51 seats. This definitive win is expected to provide a political stability in Israel which has seen five elections in less than four years.

Why was Netanyahu ousted from the office? Netanyahu was removed from the office in June 2021 after the Opposition leaders, mainly Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid formed a coalition with at least eight political parties and obtained a majority in the parliament against Netanyahu. 

  • Bennett and Lapid agreed on a power sharing formula and their alliance ended the 12-year government of Netanyahu. Netanyahu, then took the Opposition seat in the Knesset.
  • There were also several corruption allegations on Netanyahu that spoiled his reputation in the government in 2020. 
Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara Netanyahu, and Likud party members at an election-night event on November 1, 2022. Photo: Getty Images

Netanyahu's early life:

  • Netanyahu was born in Tel Aviv, Israel in 1949. 
  • In 1963, his family moved to the US when his father Benziona, a historian was offered an academic post.
  • At the age of 18, he returned to Israel, where he spent five years in the army serving even as a captain in elite commando unit, the Sayaret Matkal.
  • During his reign in the army, he was wounded on a Belgian airliner hijacked by Palestinian militants who landed in Israel in 1972.
  • In 1976, his brother Jonathan was killed leading a raid to rescue the hostages from a hijacked airliner in Entebbe, Uganda. His brother's death led a profound impact on Netanyahu who soon set up a anti-terrorism institute in his brother's memory and in 1982 became Israel's deputy chief of mission in Washington.
  • Soon, he was a prominent face on US news channels and by 1984 he became an effective advocate of Israel.

Rise in politics: Nentanyahu's rise to power happened in 1988 when he returned to Israel and won a Likud seat in the Knesset and became the Deputy Foreign Minister.

  • He later became the chairman of the party and in 1996, he became Israel's first directly elected Prime Minister after an early election following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.
  • However, he lost office in 1999, after he had called the elections 17 months early and was defeated by Labour leader Ehud Barak, Netanyahu's former commander.
  • Netanyahu then quit politics for around 2 years.
  • His return to politics happened 2001 when then Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon elected Netanyahu first as Foreign Minister and then as Finance Minister. 
  • In 2005, Netanyahu resigned after the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza strip.
  • In 2005, Netanyahu won the Likud leadership again when Sharon had a massive heart attack and that left him in a coma. Sharon also had broken ties from the Likud Party by then and formed new centrist party, Kadima.
  • In 2009, Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister for the second time.
  • In 2009, he toughened his position on Palestine and said: "A Palestine state will not be created, not like the one people are talking about. It won't happen."
    Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Getty Images

     

The Palestine-Israel conflict: The conflict between Palestinians and Israelis continued before and after Netanyahu's stint in power and reached a high point in May 2021.

All throughout his tenure as PM, Netanyahu enjoyed good relations with former US President Donald Trump and not so good with Barack Obama.

Relations with Donald Trump

  • Former US President Donald Trump went a step further in 2017 announced his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
  • The move was condemned by the Arab world which recognizes Palestinian claim to the eastern half of Jerusalem occupied by Israel since 1967.
  • Netanyahu also supported Trump on Iran welcoming the President's withdrawal in 2018 from the Iran Nuclear Deal.
  • However, Donald Trump accused Netanyahu of disloyalty when the former Israeli Prime Minister congratulated Joe Biden on his win as US President.

Corruption charges: Netanyahu was also haunted by corruption allegations in connection with at least three separate cases in November 2019. He was charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate cases.

  • Netanyahu was accused of accepting gifts from wealthy businessmen and also accused of dispensing favours to get positive media coverage.
  • He went in to trial in 2020, becoming the first Israeli Prime Minister to do so. Though Netanyahu, denied any wrongdoing on his part and called it a political witch hunt by his opponents.
  • The trial however has not reduced his popularity.
Last updated: November 04, 2022 | 14:27
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