5 things to know about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu, who controls 77 percent of the coalition government and 67 percent of the votes of his party Likud, was sworn in for a fourth term as prime minister on Monday. Here are…

5 things to know about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu, who controls 77 percent of the coalition government and 67 percent of the votes of his party Likud, was sworn in for a fourth term as prime minister on Monday. Here are some things to know about the politician:

His most notable achievement

Mr. Netanyahu has dramatically altered the economic landscape in Israel, which is finally turning the corner after 14 years of stagnation, thanks to tight regulation on the banking sector and ballooning construction taxes that he imposed. The news magazine Haaretz said, “In some respects, Netanyahu’s reign is even more significant than that of his predecessor Yitzhak Rabin,” because of what he has achieved in terms of economic growth.

He is also a frequent critic of the leftist opposition

The Knesset’s main opposition party, the leftist Zionist Union, has combined Mr. Netanyahu’s party and another one, the ultra-Orthodox party Shas, to gain the largest share of the vote in national elections. After the election, Likud and Shas entered a coalition that extends to the nationalist national-religious parties, calling the cabinet “the largest, most radical coalition in the history of Israel.” Likud officials have called the Zionist Union’s leader, Isaac Herzog, “a socialist” and warned that Israel’s security would be threatened by his coalition, though polls have consistently shown him in the lead.

His foreign policy

Mr. Netanyahu says that Israel must continue to develop its strength on the international stage and that the Palestinians must prove they want peace. Meanwhile, his peace negotiator Yoav Zitun says that, while Palestinian leaders are not naïve, they don’t really want peace, according to Haaretz. He said that they are “simply waiting for the moment that it will be safe to regain control.” That position has been called “faulty” by many in the diplomatic and political community, including former U.S. officials.

He’s always been interested in global arms control

In 1984, Mr. Netanyahu was elected to parliament in the election that saw President Ronald Reagan win a second term, giving Israel a major reason to be concerned about the strength of the U.S. nuclear shield against adversaries. In the 2002 essay that laid out the principles of his policy, Mr. Netanyahu asserted that “we must seek to prevent the launching of nuclear and other armed offensive weapons or missile bases and launchers by any state that may have such means.”

His most famous indiscretion

When a bipartisan group of senators investigating CIA torture denounced the practices in their Senate report, Mr. Netanyahu said, “I agree with them completely.” If Mr. Netanyahu is asked about it now, however, he prefers to say that “the international debate concerning the past years of the U.S. government, especially concerning interrogation practices and related subjects, is similar to that which applies to any series of historical incidents,” the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

His most creative career move

In 2013, Mr. Netanyahu was pictured on a private jet “laughing and chatting” with the Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, on the flight back from a meeting that was briefly interrupted by reporters asking about the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

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