Binyamin “Bibi” Netanyahu is considered one of Israel’s most articulate political figures, particularly in English; he was educated both in Israel and the United States.
In the 1980s, he served as an Israeli Embassy spokesman in Washington, D.C. In 1988, he entered the Knesset with the Likud; he was a deputy foreign minister from 1990-1991, during Operation Desert Storm, and a spokesman for Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.
In 1996, Mr. Netanyahu defeated Labor’s Shimon Peres to become prime minister. Mr. Netanyahu is considered hawkish, but signed the 1997 Hebron Agreement, which returned 80 percent of the holy city to the Palestinians, and the 1998 Wye Accord, which gave more land to the Palestinians. As a result, Mr. Netanyahu lost popularity among the right and was voted out of office in 1999 by Ehud Barak and the Labor Party.
Likud’s Ariel Sharon became prime minister in 2001 and Mr. Netanyahu was back as foreign minister and then finance minister. Mr. Netanyahu stabilized the Israeli economy with strong cutbacks, but resigned in 2005 to protest Mr. Sharon’s Gaza disengagement. Today, Mr. Netanyahu is again head of the Likud and leads opinion polls to become prime minister. If Kadima’s Tzippy Livni cannot form a governing coalition by mid-November at the latest, new elections will be held within three months.