Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu

Former Prime Minister of Israel

WHEN: Thursday, April 11, 2002

TOPIC: A Conversation with Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu served as Israel's ninth and youngest Prime Minister from 1996 to 1999. He was born in Tel-Aviv and grew up in Jerusalem. His high school years were spent in the United States where his father taught history.

Returning to Israel in 1967, he enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces and served in an elite commando unit. He participated in various missions during the War of Attrition, including the Beirut Airport Operation and the rescue of the hijacked Sabena airline at Ben Gurion airport and was wounded in this operation. Netanyahu was cited for his outstanding operational leadership and at the time of his discharge in 1972 had reached the rank of captain following the Yom Kippur War.

Netanyahu received a B.S. in architecture and an M.S. in management studies from MIT. He also studied political science at MIT and Harvard University. After completing his studies, he worked for a consulting firm in Boston and later in Jerusalem.

His political career began in 1982 when he was asked by Ambassador Moshe Arens to assume the position of deputy chief of mission in the Israeli embassy in Washington. Two years later he was appointed Israel's ambassador to the United Nations and served there for four years. Returning to Israel in 1988 he was appointed deputy foreign minister.

During the Gulf War he served as Israel's principal representative in the international arena. In October 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, Lebannon and a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation.