Rival politicians in Israel have formed a new government to remove Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s longest-serving ruler, from power.
After four parliamentary elections in two years, opposition leader Yair Lapid, a former TV presenter, formed a coalition with Naftali Bennett, a former settler leader and far-right religious nationalist who called for annexation most of the occupied West Bank. .
On Sunday, the Knesset voted 60-59 to approve the new coalition government, ending Netanyahu’s 12-year reign as prime minister.
The first years
Currently on trial for corruption, Netanyahu was Israel’s most right-wing prime minister to date and the first Israeli-born politician to become a leader.
The son of a “revisionist Zionist” from Poland, Netanyahu finds some of his roots in Spain.
Born in Jaffa in 1949, Netanyahu grew up in Jerusalem and received his high school education in the United States.
Her mother, Tzila Segal, was an Israel-born Jew and her father, Benzion Netanyahu, was a secular Jew from Poland.
His father changed his name from Benzion Mileikowsky to Benzion Netanyahu after he moved to Palestine.
Netanyahu’s father was one of the first revisionist Zionists who believed that Israel should exist on both sides of the Jordan, rejecting compromises with neighboring Arab states.
In 1967, Benjamin Netanyahu joined the Israeli army and quickly became an elite commando and served as a captain during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.
Rise in power
In 1982, Netanyahu was appointed deputy chief of mission at the Israeli embassy in Washington. In 1984, he was appointed Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations.
In 1988, Netanyahu was appointed deputy foreign minister in the office of then Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.
After taking over as chairman of the right-wing Likud party in 1993, Netanyahu orchestrated the party’s return to political power after its defeat in the 1992 election.
He held various roles in the Israeli Foreign Ministry until he won the 1996 elections. His first term as Prime Minister lasted until 1999. Later he also won the elections. from 2009, 2013 and 2015.
Netanyahu lost the leadership of Likud to Ariel Sharon, but recovered it after the latter left Likud to form the Kadima party in 2005.
For critics such as Yuval Diskin, the former head of Israel’s domestic intelligence organization, Netanyahu has an exaggerated sense of entitlement.
Diskin once said: “In my opinion, inside Netanyahu there is a mixture of ideology, a deep feeling that he is the prince of an elite Jerusalem ‘royal family’, as well as insecurity and a deep fear of taking responsibility. “
To his supporters, he is a strong spokesperson for Israel, ready to tell the public uncomfortable truths and able to stand up to his enemies.
Netanyahu had a “three no” mantra: no Palestinian state, no return from the Golan Heights to Syria, and no discussion of the future status of Jerusalem.
Despite his opposition to most peace agreements with the Palestinians, Netanyahu signed the Wye River accords in 1998 with Yasser Arafat, then president of the Palestinian National Authority.
His resignation in August 2005 as foreign minister came in protest against Sharon’s plan to disengage from Gaza, part of Palestinian territory.
Status of Jerusalem
Netanyahu was determined to continue the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
“We will continue to build in Jerusalem and in all places that are on the map of Israel’s strategic interests,” Netanyahu said.
The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States in 2016 was hailed by Netanyahu.
After eight difficult years in US-Israel relations with Barack Obama in the White House, a Trump-Netanyahu meeting in Washington, DC in early 2017 was meant to signal a “reset” in relations between the two sides.
Later that year, Trump broke with decades of American politics and announced that the United States officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and would begin the process of moving its embassy to the city.
Netanyahu hailed the decision and said it was a “historic day” for Israel.
A delay in Joe Biden’s first phone call to Netanyahu after taking office sparked speculation the US president was signaling his discontent with Netanyahu’s close ties to Trump.
But the 11-day Israeli assault on Gaza brought the two leaders together as Biden showed strong support for Netanyahu and his policies during Israel’s latest bombing campaign on the besieged enclave that killed more than 250 Palestinians, including at least 66 children.
During his first term as prime minister, Netanyahu told the US Congress that “time is running out” to deal with Iran.
“The deadline for achieving this goal is extremely close,” he said.
Netanyahu has said Iran poses an “existential threat” to Israel and has repeatedly threatened unilateral military action against Iran.
“As long as I am prime minister, Iran will not have an atomic bomb,” he said in 2013. “If there is no other way, Israel is ready to act [with force]. “
Netanyahu was indicted in 2019 in long-running cases involving gifts from millionaire friends and allegedly seeking regulatory favors for media moguls in return for favorable coverage.
The charges against him have been at the center of the debates during the recent elections in the country. Netanyahu has denied the allegations and has pleaded not guilty as the trial continues.
Netanyahu, who made Israel’s global vaccine rollout a showcase for his campaign in the country’s fourth national poll in two years, claimed victory over COVID-19 by making Israel a “vaccination nation.”
About half of the population has been vaccinated at a rate that has garnered international praise for Netanyahu, but also calls on Israel to do more to ensure Palestinians in the territories it occupies receive vaccines.
Political opponents have said he has mismanaged the pandemic from the start, stressing the need for three national lockdowns and accusing him of turning a blind eye to offenders within the ultra-Orthodox community which provides a power base for its main coalition partners.