Born in Tel-Aviv on October 21, 1949, Benjamin Netanyahu grew up in Jerusalem. He spent his high school years in the United States, where his father, the historian Professor Benzion Netanyahu, taught history. Returning to Israel in 1967, Mr. Netanyahu enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces and served in an elite commando unit.
Mr. Netanyahu participated in various missions during the War of Attrition, including the Beirut Airport operation. He took part in the rescue operation of the hijacked Sabena Airline hostages at Ben Gurion Airport, in which he was wounded. He was also cited for outstanding operational leadership by O.C. Northern Command, the late Maj. Gen. Motta Gur. He was discharged from the I.D.F. in 1972 and reached the rank of captain following the Yom Kippur War.
Mr. Netanyahu received a B.S. in Architecture and an M.S. in Management Studies from M.I.T. He also studied political science at M.I.T. and Harvard University.
After completing his studies, he was employed by the Boston Consulting Group, an international business-consulting firm. He later joined the senior management of Rim Industries in Jerusalem.
In 1979, Mr. Netanyahu initiated and organized an international conference against terrorism, under the auspices of the Jonathan Institute—a private foundation dedicated to the study of terrorism, which was named after his brother Jonathan who fell while leading the rescue party at Entebbe.
World leaders, including former President George Bush and former Secretary of State George Shultz, participated in this conference and a subsequent one in 1984. Mr. Netanyahu has been credited by Mr. Shultz for his central role in effecting a change in American policies on international terrorism.
In 1982, at the request of then-Ambassador Moshe Arens, Mr. Netanyahu assumed the position of Deputy Chief of Mission in the Israeli Embassy in Washington. He was a member of the first delegation to the talks on strategic cooperation between Israel and the United States. Two years later, he was appointed Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations and served there for four years.
Returning to Israel in 1988, Mr. Netanyahu was elected to the 12th Knesset as a Likud member and was appointed Deputy Foreign Minister.
During the Gulf War, he served as Israel’s principal representative in the international arena. In October of 1991, he was a senior member of the Israeli delegation to the Madrid Peace Conference, which initiated the first direct negotiations between Israel and Syria, Lebanon, and a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation.
In 1996, three years after becoming a Likud party leader, Benjamin Netanyahu became the youngest prime minister in Israeli history. He transferred the Israeli economy towards free market principles and brought recognition to Israel as one of the most sought after high-tech markets in the world. At the same time he drastically reduced the deficit, cut inflation to a 35-year low and brought foreign investment to Israel in unprecedented levels. Mr. Netanyahu successfully reduced terrorism inside the country and in late 1998; he made an indelible mark, signing a historic interim peace agreement in Wye River, Maryland, with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.
Mr. Netanyahu is the author of three books: Terrorism: How the West Can Win (edited 1986), A Place Among the Nations (1992), and Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorism (1995). His books have been published in Hebrew, English, Arabic, and other languages.
Netanyahu is married to Sara, and father of Noah, Yair, and Avner.