Benjamin Netanyahu was Israel's prime minister for a total of 15 years -- from 1996 to 1999 and then from 2009 to 2021, when he was replaced by Naftali Bennett. Born in Tel Aviv the year after Israel had gained independence, Benjamin Netanyahu studied for a few years in the United States before returning to Israel in 1967 for military service. Netanyahu's career in the U.S. and Israel shifted from business to politics, and he worked in the U.S. at the Israeli embassy and then as a representative at the United Nations. He was elected to Israel's parliament, the Knesset, in 1988, and during the Gulf War of the early 1990s he strengthened his political position and emerged as a candidate for prime minister. His party won the 1996 elections and Netanyahu became PM, but he was then defeated in the elections of 1999 and succeeded by Ehud Barak
. Netanyahu served as Minister of Foreign Affairs (2002-03) and Minister of Finance (2003-05) under Ariel Sharon
, but left Sharon's government over policy differences. Netanyahu gained leadership of the Likud Party in 2005, and in 2009 he was the party's successful candidate for the prime minister position against acting Prime Minister Tzipi Livni
of the Kadima Party. Although the election on 10 February 2009 gave Kadima more seats in the Knesset, Likud's showing at the polls put Netanyahu in position to form a new government as prime minister. Netanyahu called for fresh elections in January of 2013, and his Likud-Yisrael Beitenu alliance won a narrow victory, capturing 31 of the Likud's 120 seats and keeping him in office. He ran for reelection in 2015, creating a controversy when he appeared before the U.S. Congress to denounce an American nuclear deal with Iran being made by President Barack Obama
. The event didn't hurt Netanyahu and may have helped him: he scored another victory on 17 March 2015, with Likud again winning national elections to give him a fourth term as prime minister. Netanyahu was indicted while in office in 2019 on corruption charges, leading many to call for his resignation. Throughout 2020 anti-Netanyahu protests competed with the Covid 19 pandemic for headlines, and in June of 2021 a close vote ousted Netanyahu as Prime Minister.