By Andrew Irumba
Israel’s Blue & White party, the main rival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, have conceded defeat, local media reported Wednesday.
Following the announcement, US President Donald Trump hastened to congratulate Netanyahu with the victory!
According to preliminary results published by Israel’s Central Elections Committee, 11, or possibly 12, of the whopping 40 parties which participated in the vote will enter the Knesset.
“We didn’t win in this round. We will make Likud’s life hell in the opposition,” Yair Lapid, number two in the centrist party led by former military chief Benny Gantz, said in a televised statement, referring to Netanyahu’s right-wing party.
Who Is Netanyahu?
Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu, born 21 October 1949 is an Israeli politician serving as the 9th and current Prime Minister of Israel since 2009, previously holding the position from 1996 to 1999. Netanyahu is also currently a member of the Knesset and the Chairman of the Likud party.
He is the first Israeli Prime Minister born in Israel after the establishment of the state.
Born in Tel Aviv to secular Jewish parents, Netanyahu joined the Israel Defense Forces shortly after the Six-Day War in 1967, and became a team leader in the Sayeret Matkal Special Forces unit.
Netanyahu took part in many missions, including Operation Inferno (1968), Operation Gift (1968) and Operation Isotope (1972), during which he was shot in the shoulder. Netanyahu fought on the front lines in the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, taking part in Special Forces raids along the Suez Canal, and then leading a commando assault deep into Syrian territory.
Netanyahu achieved the rank of captain before being discharged. After graduating from MIT with Bachelor of Science (SB) and Master of Science (SM) degrees, Netanyahu was recruited as an economic consultant for the Boston Consulting Group. Netanyahu returned to Israel in 1978 to found the Yonatan Netanyahu Anti-Terror Institute, named after his brother Yonatan Netanyahu, who died leading Operation Entebbe. Netanyahu served as the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations from 1984 to 1988.
He became the leader of Likud in 1993 and won the 1996 elections, becoming Israel’s youngest-ever Prime Minister, serving his first term from June 1996 to July 1999. Netanyahu moved from the political arena to the private sector after being defeated in the 1999 election for prime minister by Ehud Barak.
He returned to politics in 2002 as Foreign Affairs Minister (2002–2003) and Finance Minister (2003–2005) in Ariel Sharon’s governments, but he departed the government over disagreements regarding the Gaza disengagement plan. As Minister of Finance, Netanyahu engaged in a major reform of the Israeli economy, which was credited by commentators as having significantly improved Israel’s subsequent economic performance. Netanyahu retook the Likud leadership in December 2005, after Sharon left to form a new party, Kadima. In December 2006, Netanyahu became the official Leader of the Opposition in the Knesset and Chairman of Likud. Following the 2009 parliamentary election, in which Likud placed second and right-wing parties won a majority, Netanyahu formed a coalition government. He won electoral victory in the 2013 elections for the third time, and in the 2015 elections for a fourth time.
Netanyahu has been elected Prime Minister of Israel four times, matching David Ben-Gurion for most premierships, and he is the only prime minister in Israel’s history to have been elected three times in a row. Netanyahu is currently the second longest-serving Prime Minister in Israel’s history after David Ben-Gurion. Since December 2016 Netanyahu had been under investigation by police and prosecutors for a number of alleged corruption scandals, culminating in the Israeli attorney general announcing his intent to file indictments in 2019.
He has now been overwhelmingly voted back into office.