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Benjamin Netanyahu is best known for his service as prime minister of Israel.
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Benjamin Netanyahu was born on October 21, 1949, in Tel Aviv, Israel. He joined the Israeli military in 1967, moving into the special operations force that rescued a hijacked airplane at the Tel Aviv airport in 1972. Netanyahu became leader of the Likud party in 1993 and continued working with Likud since, twice serving as prime minister.
"No one yet knows what awaits the Jews in the 21st century, but we must make every effort to ensure that it is better than what befell them in the twentieth, the century of the Holocaust."
Benjamin Netanyahu was born on October 21, 1949, in Tel Aviv, Israel and grew up in Jerusalem. He spent most of his teen years living in the Philadelphia area, where his father, noted Jewish historian Benzion Netanyahu, worked as a professor. In 1967, he returned to Israel to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces' elite unit, "Sayeret Matkal," and took part in a number of military operations, including the dramatic 1972 rescue of a hijacked Sebana passenger jet. Codenamed "Operation Isotope," the rescue was led by future Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
Netanyahu returned to the United States that same year and went on to receive degrees in architecture and business administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1976, he was employed by the Boston Consulting Group, but returned to Israel following the death of Yoni, his eldest brother, who was killed attempting to free hostages from a hijacked Air France airliner in Uganda. Netanyahu became highly involved in international counterterrorism efforts, which helped launch his political career: first serving in the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. (1982-84), then serving as the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations (1984-88). During his time at the U.N., he successfully led a campaign to declassify U.N. archives on Nazi war crimes.
In 1988, Netanyahu was elected a member of the Knesset by the Likud Party and served as deputy minister for foreign affairs. Five years later, he was elected chairman of the Likud Party and its prime minister candidate. In 1996, he was elected prime minister of Israel, defeating incumbent Labor candidate Shimon Peres. Netanyahu served as prime minister until 1999. During his term, he signed the Hebron and Wye Accords, advancing the peace process with the Palestinians. He also expanded government privatization, liberalized currency regulations and reduced deficits.
Following his term as prime minister, Netanyahu worked in the private sector and toured on the lecture circuit. But in 2002, he returned to politics, serving as minister of foreign affairs before becoming minister of finance. On March 31, 2009, he was sworn in as prime minister for the second time, punctuating his victory by establishing a national unity government and calling for a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. In his famous June 2009 address to Bar-Ilan University, he said, "I told President Obama in Washington, if we get a guarantee of demilitarization, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, we are ready to agree to a real peace agreement, a demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state."
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