Benjamin Netanyahu: Israel’s longest-serving PM with his share of scandals

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Benjamin Netanyahu is no stranger to Israeli politics. The veteran politician was first elected Prime Minister of the country way back in 1996 and has served in that position for 15 years – 12 in a stretch. While he was ousted from the position in 2021, Netanyahu seems on the verge of becoming the PM once again as the rightwing religious bloc took a huge lead in the ongoing general elections. 

The 73-year-old, also known as King Bibi, completed his master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States and quickly became a well-known face on American television for speaking in favour of Israel in various debates while serving as a diplomat abroad.  

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The transition to mainstream politics came quite smoothly for him as the 1995 assassination of then PM Yitzhak Rabin proved to be a huge roadblock for the Israel-Palestine peace talks and the Netanyahu-led alliance swept the elections one year later to make him the youngest PM in the nation’s history. 

Netanyahu became well known for his hard stance on the Palestinian conflict and during his first speech at the US Congress, he made it clear that his position will be “one of power, not compromise”. 

While Israel continued to grow as both an economic as well as military power, the regime faced criticism for their handling of the Palestine situation as well as widespread corruption. During his 12-year-tenure, the politician also faced pressure from the international community for his crackdown on protestors. 

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However, public support continued to keep him in power and on multiple occasions, the coalitions led by Netanyahu emerged as the winners due to anti-Palestine and anti-Arab sentiments. 

In 2019, he became the first reigning PM to face a criminal prosecution following three major corruption charges and that proved to be his undoing. As Israel kept holding elections almost every year following the scandal, he failed to secure a majority in 2021 and was ultimately replaced by Naftali Bennett. 

With Netanyahu once again becoming the favourite to become Prime Minister, the corruption cases can come back to haunt him. The former PM will not be able to regain his position without a clean chit from the courts but the election victory once again established him as a force in Israeli politics. 

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