Netanyahu, the master of political survival

ISRAEL (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The most sustainable prime minister in the modern history of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu is a “magician” of political survival who will have to take two rabbits out of his hat: win the elections on Monday and then “defeat” the justice accusing him of corruption.

Often nicknamed “King Bibi” by his supporters, the Prime Minister became in November the only head of government according to Israeli history to be charged by justice. With the key a trial for corruption, abuse of power and embezzlement which begins on March 17, 15 days after elections crucial to his political survival.

A hoarse tenor voice, irremovable silver hair, often dressed in a blue suit and tie on a white shirt, Benjamin Netanyahu, 70, has established himself in the heart of the Israeli political system as if he had always been part of it.

This fine strategist, accustomed to swaying, is however the only Prime Minister of Israel to be born after the creation of the Hebrew State in May 1948.

Born in Tel Aviv on October 21, 1949, Benjamin Netanyahu inherited a muscular ideological background from his father Benzion, who was the personal assistant of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, leader of the so-called “revisionist” Zionist tendency, favorable to a “Great Israel “integrating Jordan.

Today, Benjamin Netanyahu advocates a vision of Israel as a “Jewish state” whose borders must extend northeast to Jordan, hence his promise to annex the Jordan Valley, located in the West Bank , occupied Palestinian territory.

– Youngest Prime Minister –

The young Netanyahu performs his military service in a prestigious commando. The Middle East was then in the post-Six Day War, which in 1967 saw Israel seize the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, as well as the Syrian Golan and the Egyptian Sinai.

On the Arab side, the defeat is bitter. Outside the field of conventional armies, new actors are emerging, such as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which brings together Palestinian armed groups.

In 1976, Benjamin’s brother, Yoni, commander of the unit responsible for releasing the hostages from a Tel Aviv / Paris flight hijacked by two Palestinian and German organizations in Uganda, was killed during the Israeli assault.

The death of his older brother deeply shakes Benjamin Netanyahu, who will make the “fight against terrorism”, which he often associated with the Palestinians, one of the threads of his political career.

Born speaker, pugnacious, he became a diplomat in Washington, then ambassador to the UN in the 1980s. Returning to Israel, he was elected deputy in 1988 under the banner of Likud, a large right-wing party which he became, with his style American style, the rising star.

During the 1991 Gulf War, which exposed Israel to a shower of Iraqi Scud missiles, the new member of parliament defended the Israeli point of view on the American channel CNN. At ease in front of the camera, he knows media codes and has a command of English, having previously studied at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

He continued his ascent until his first consecration in 1996. At 47, Benjamin Netanyahu then triumphed over Dean Shimon Peres and became the youngest Prime Minister in the history of Israel.

But his reign was short-lived. Three years. Then after a brief retirement, he returned to his passion: politics. And takes again the head of Likoud, then becomes Prime Minister again in 2009.

– “Personal War” –

Since then, Israel has known only “Bibi”, a past master in the art of forming coalitions, co-opting small parties and ultra-Orthodox formations, to establish its power.

He presents himself as the great defender of the Hebrew State against Iran, the new “Amalek”, mortal enemy of the Hebrews in the Bible. His opponents describe rather an autocrat ready to do anything to stay in his post.

Ideologist or pragmatic? This is the big question. “Although Benjamin Netanyahu sympathizes with his father’s policy (…), his actions as Prime Minister are above all motivated by pragmatic considerations,” wrote academic Neill Lochery in a recent biography.

Married and father of three children, Benjamin Netanyahu is now in the crosshairs of justice for corruption, fraud and breach of trust in cases of donations received from billionaires, exchanges of good practices with business owners, and collusion with the press.


This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.

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