Benjamin Netanyahu becomes Israel’s longest-serving leader

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Reuters

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Netanyahu still faces a tough fight for his political survival

Benjamin Netanyahu has become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, surpassing the record set by the country’s founding father.

Mr Netanyahu has led for 4,876 – one day more than Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion.

He secured his fifth term earlier this year but has called fresh elections after failing to form a government.

Mr Netanyahu is currently facing a series of possible corruption charges and calls for him to resign.

He has denied any wrongdoing and alleges that the case is politically motivated.

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Mr Netanyahu won his first election in 1996, becoming Israel’s youngest-ever prime minister at the age of 46. He is also the first leader born after the creation of the state in 1948.

As head of the right-wing Likud party, Mr Netanyahu has a reputation as a hardliner on the Israel-Palestinian peace process.

Although he carried out a partial withdrawal from the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank in 1998 – handing most of it over to the Palestinian Authority – he is a staunch opponent of the land-for-peace formula.

He has since declared there will be no more evacuations of Jewish settlers or settlements under his rule, nor the creation of a fully fledged Palestinian state.

While Mr Netanyahu – colloquially known as Bibi – remains popular with his party base, he is a divisive figure in Israel, where critics see him as venal and even anti-democratic.

He faces a tough challenge from political opponents seeking to topple him in elections on 17 September. Among them are another former prime minster, Ehud Barak, and a former military chief-of-staff.



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