After a brief career in business, Netanyahu was appointed Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. in 1982. Subsequently, he became Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, serving from 1984 to 1988. He was elected to the Knesset in 1988 and served in the governments led by Yitzhak Shamir from 1988 to 1992. Shamir retired from politics shortly after Likud's defeat in the 1992 elections. In 1993, for the first time, the party held a primary election to select its leader, and Netanyahu was victorious, defeating Benny Begin, son of the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and veteran politician David Levy. (Ariel Sharon initially sought the Likud leadership as well, but quickly withdrew when it was evident that he was attracting minimal support.)
As Prime Minister, Netanyahu negotiated with Yasser Arafat in the form of the Wye River Accords (1998). No progress was made regarding negotiations with the Palestinians, and although they failed to implement agreed-upon steps of the Oslo Accords, Netanyahu turned over most of Hebron to Palestinian jurisdiction. In 1996, Netanyahu and Jerusalem's mayor Ehud Olmert decided to open an exit for the Western Wall Tunnel. This sparked three days of rioting by Palestinians, resulting in both Israelis and Palestinians being killed.
As Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasized a policy of "three no(s)": no withdrawal from Golan Heights, no discussion of the case of Jerusalem, no negotiations under any preconditions.
Netanyahu was opposed by the political left wing in Israel and also lost support from the right because of his concessions to the Palestinians in Hebron and elsewhere, and due to his negotiations with Arafat generally. After a long chain of scandals (including gossip regarding his marriage) and an investigation opened against him on charges of corruption (later acquitted), Netanyahu lost favor with the Israeli public.
In 2001, Netanyahu missed the opportunity to return to power since he refused to run unless there were general elections, a move that facilitated Sharon's entry into the race for Prime Minister. In 2002, after the Labour Party left the coalition and vacated the position of foreign minister, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appointed Netanyahu as Foreign Minister. Netanyahu challenged Sharon for the leadership of the Likud party, but failed to oust Sharon. After the 2003 elections, Netanyahu accepted the post of Finance Minister in a newly formed Sharon coalition. Netanyahu did not support the concept of a future Palestinian state, though on two occasions in 2001, he indicated willingness to consider the idea.
As Finance Minister, Netanyahu undertook an economic plan in order to restore Israel's economy from its low point during the al-Aqsa Intifada. The plan involved a move toward more liberalized markets, although it was not without its critics. Netanyahu succeeded in passing several long-in-the-queue reforms, including an important reform in the banking system that followed with a significant increase in the GDP growth rate. However, opponents in the Labor party (and a few even with his own Likud) viewed Netanyahu's policies as "Thatcherite" attacks on the venerated Israeli social safety net. Likud's defeat in the 2006 elections is seen by many observers as a collective Israeli rejection of these policies.
Netanyahu threatened to resign in 2004 unless the Gaza pullout plan was put to a referendum, but later lifted the ultimatum. He submitted his resignation letter on August 7, 2005, shortly before the Israeli cabinet voted 17 to 5 to approve the initial phase of withdrawals of the Gaza Disengagement Plan. Netanyahu's resignation went into effect August 9, 2005, two days after he submitted his letter. Shortly thereafter he revealed he had rejected an invitation to serve as Italy's finance minister, allegedly extended to him by Italian billionaire businessman Carlo De Benedetti, who later said it was a joke.
Following the withdrawal of Ariel Sharon from the Likud, Netanyahu was one of several candidates who vied for the Likud leadership. His most recent attempt prior to this was in September 2005 when he tried to hold early primaries for the position of the head of the Likud party, while the party held the office of Prime Minister - thus effectively pushing Ariel Sharon out of office. The party rejected this initiative. Netanyahu retook the leadership on December 20, 2005, with 47% of the primary vote. In the March 2006 Knesset elections, Likud took the third place behind Kadima and Labor. Netanyahu is currently Leader of the Opposition.
On August 14, 2007, Netanyahu was reelected as chairman of the Likud and its candidate to the post of Prime Minister with 73% of the vote against far-right candidate Moshe Feiglin and World Likud Chairman Danny Danon.
On July 31, 2008, Netanyahu, as Likud party leader, called for snap polls, since Ehud Olmert's successor as Kadima leader would not automatically be the prime minister: "This government has reached an end ... it doesn't matter who heads Kadima. They are all partners in this government's total failure. National responsibility requires a return to the people and new elections. Israeli law requires dissolution of the current government and formation of a coalition by the new leader before taking over. Olmert plans to be a caretaker until formation of new government.
Netanyahu repeated these remarks at a news conference in April, 2008, stating that "where that [Nazi] regime embarked on a global conflict before it developed nuclear weapons," he said. "This regime [Iran] is developing nuclear weapons before it embarks on a global conflict."
The Medieval Hebrew Encyclopedias of Science and Philosophy: Proceedings of the Bar-Ilan University Conference.(Reviews of Books)(Book Review)
Apr 01, 2003; The Medieval Hebrew Encyclopedias of Science and Philosophy: Proceedings of the Bar-Ilan University Conference. Edited by STEVEN...