Naftali Bennett, Prime Minister of Israel (since Jun 13, 2021)
Naftali Bennett (born 25 March 1972) is an Israeli politician serving as the 13th and current prime minister of Israel since 13 June 2021. He served as Minister of Diaspora Affairs from 2013 to 2019, as Minister of Education from 2015 to 2019, and as Minister of Defense from 2019 to 2020. He has led the New Right party since 2018, having previously led The Jewish Home party between 2012 and 2018.
Born and raised in Haifa, the son of immigrants from the United States, Bennett served in the Sayeret Matkal and Maglan special forces units of the Israel Defense Forces, commanding many combat operations, and subsequently became a software entrepreneur. In 1999, he co-founded and co-owned the US company Cyota. The company was sold in 2005 for $145 million. He has also served as CEO of Soluto, an Israeli cloud computing service, sold in 2013 for a reported $100–130 million.
Bennett entered politics in 2006, serving as Chief of Staff for Benjamin Netanyahu until 2008. In 2011, together with Ayelet Shaked, he co-founded the My Israel extra-parliamentary movement. In 2012, Bennett was elected as the party leader of The Jewish Home. In the 2013 Knesset election, the first contested by The Jewish Home under Bennett’s leadership, the party won 12 seats out of 120. He served under Prime Minister Netanyahu as Minister of Economy and Religious Services from 2013 to 2015, before being appointed as Minister of Education in 2015. In December 2018, Bennett defected from The Jewish Home to form the New Right, a member of the Yamina alliance. After he lost his Knesset seat in the April 2019 Knesset election, he was dismissed by Netanyahu as Education Minister in June 2019. He regained his seat in the September 2019 Knesset election and was appointed Minister of Defense, before leaving the position the following year. In 2020, Bennett succeeded Shaked to become the leader of the Yamina alliance. On 2 June 2021, Bennett agreed to a rotation government with Yair Lapid, whereby Bennett would serve as Israel’s Prime Minister until 2023, after which Lapid would assume the role until 2025. Bennett was sworn in on 13 June 2021.
Bennett’s wife, Gilat, is a professional pastry chef. She was secular but following her husband she now observes the Sabbath and kashrut. The couple have four children and live in Ra’anana, a city 20 kilometres (12 mi) north of Tel Aviv. Their eldest son Yonatan is named after Yonatan Netanyahu and their youngest son David Emmanuel is named after Emmanuel Moreno, who was a comrade of Bennett’s in the special forces. Bennett adheres to Modern Orthodox Judaism.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Former Prime Minister of the State of Israel
Benjamin Netanyahu was born in 1949 in Tel Aviv and grew up in Jerusalem. His high school years were spent in the U.S., where his father, historian Benzion Netanyahu, was conducting research. Returning to Israel in 1967, Mr. Netanyahu enlisted in the IDF and served in the elite commando unit, Sayeret Matkal. He took part in a number of special operations, including the rescue of hostages in a hijacked Sabena airplane in 1972. In the same year, he was cited for outstanding operational leadership by Major General Mordechai Gur. After his discharge from the IDF in 1972, Mr. Netanyahu fought in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and reached the rank of captain.
Mr. Netanyahu received a B.Sc. degree in Architecture and a M.Sc. in Business Management from MIT. He also studied political science at MIT and at Harvard University.
Between 1976 and 1982 Mr. Netanyahu worked in the private sector, first with the Boston Consulting Group, an international business consultancy, and then in a senior management position at Rim Industries Ltd.
In 1979 and 1984 Mr. Netanyahu initiated two international conferences that emphasized the need to fight terrorist organizations and regimes providing them support. U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz wrote at the time that Mr. Netanyahu’s public advocacy and books on the topic had a decisive influence in shaping American policy on terrorism.
In 1982, Mr. Netanyahu assumed the position of Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC. In 1984 he was appointed Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, a position in which he served at for four years. During this time he became renowned as a tireless champion of Israel’s cause in the international arena. As such, he led the effort for declassification of the United Nations archives on war crimes committed by Nazi Germany.
Returning to Israel in 1988, Mr. Netanyahu was elected to the Knesset on the Likud party list and was appointed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. During the Gulf War he served as Israel’s principal spokesman in the international media. In 1991 he was a senior member of the Israeli delegation to the Madrid peace conference and participated in the first strategic cooperation committee between Israel and the U.S.
In 1993 Mr. Netanyahu was elected Likud party chairman and served as leader of the opposition until being elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1996.
During his first term as Prime Minister, Mr. Netanyahu implemented a policy that combined fighting terror with advancement of the peace process. He signed agreements with the Palestinians that insisted on reciprocity. During his three year term, the number of terror attacks against Israel decreased dramatically.
In the economic realm, Mr. Netanyahu led the liberalization of foreign currency regulations, accelerated privatization of government-owned companies and reduced the budget deficit. During his term in office, the scope of foreign investment in Israeli hi-tech industry reached billions of dollars per year.
After the completion of his term as Prime Minister, Mr. Netanyahu served as a business consultant to Israeli hi-tech companies and was a popular speaker on the global lecture circuit.
In 2002 Mr. Netanyahu returned to politics, first as Minister of Foreign Affairs and then, in the course of 2003, as Minister of Finance. He initiated policies that encouraged growth by reducing the public sector and strengthening the private sector. They included the reduction of government spending, tax cuts, transition from welfare to work, breakup of monopolies, accelerated privatization and the introduction of pension reform. These steps, praised by the U.S. administration, credit rating companies and the IMF, put an end to economic decline, lowered unemployment and spurred growth. An Israeli economy that was shrinking in 2001 grew from 2003 at a 5% rate in the following four years. Unemployment declined and hundreds of thousands of Israelis returned to work.
In 2009, Mr. Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister for the second time.
Mr. Netanyahu has written or edited the following books that appeared in Hebrew and English, with some also translated into Russian, French, Arabic, Japanese and other languages:
Self-portrait of a Hero: The Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu (1963-1976) – editor, together with brother Ido Netanyahu (1978)
International Terrorism: Challenge and Response – editor (1979)
Terrorism: How the West Can Win – editor (1987)
A Place Among the Nations: Israel and the World (1992)
Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorism (1996)
Mr. Netanyahu is married to Sara, a psychologist, and is a father of three. The Netanyahu family lives in Jerusalem.
1967-1972 Soldier and officer in “Sayeret Matkal”, the IDF elite commando unit
1972-1976 B.Sc. in Architecture, M.Sc. in Business Management, MIT
1976-1978 Consultant with the Boston Consulting Group
1978-1980 Head of the Jonathan Institute, an NGO devoted to the study of terror
1980-1982 Member of the senior management team, Rim Industries Ltd.
1982-1984 Deputy Chief of Mission, Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC
1984-1988 Ambassador of Israel to the UN
1988-1991 Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
1991-1992 Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office
1993-1996 Chairman of Likud, leader of the opposition
1996-1999 Prime Minister
1999-2002 Consultant to hi-tech companies
2002-2003 Minister of Foreign Affairs
2003-2005 Minister of Finance
2005-2009 Chairman of Likud, leader of the opposition
2009 Prime Minister
Shimon Peres, President of Israel
Shimon Peres was born in 1923 in Vishniev, Belarus, and immigrated to Israel in 1934. He attended the Geula High School in Tel-Aviv, and continued his studies at the Ben Shemen Agricultural Youth Village. He then went for a training period to Kibbutz Geva and later joined Kibbutz Alumot in Lower Galilee.
Politically active from the age of 16, Shimon Peres was elected Secretary of the Labour Youth Movement in 1943. In 1944, he returned to Kibbutz Alumot, where he worked as farmer and shepherd.
In 1947, after having been conscripted by David Ben Gurion and Levi Eshkol to the Hagana Defense Forces, Shimon Peres was assigned responsibility for manpower and arms, an activity which he continued during the early part of Israel’s War of Independence. A year later, in 1948, Shimon Peres was appointed head of Israel’s navy and at war’s end, assumed the position of Director of the Defense Ministry’s delegation in the United States. While in the United States, he studied at the New-York School for Social Research and at Harvard.
In 1953, at age 29, Shimon Peres was appointed by Prime Minister and Minister of Defense David Ben Gurion to the post of Director General of the Ministry of Defense, a position he held until 1959. During that period, he shaped the special relations between Israel and France, and established Israel’s electronic aircraft industries, as well as its nuclear program.
In 1956, Shimon Peres masterminded the Sinai Campaign.
In 1959, Shimon Peres was elected to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, of which he is still a member, and became Deputy-Minister of Defense. In 1965, he left the Mapai Labour Party together with David Ben Gurion, and was elected Secretary General of Rafi (the Israel Workers’ List). In 1967, he was instrumental in forming a union between Rafi and Mapai, giving birth to the Israel Labour Party.
In 1969, Shimon Peres became Minister of Immigrant Absorption, as well as undertaking the responsibility for the development of the occupied territories. From 1970 to 1974, he served as Minister of Transport and Communications. In 1974, after acting for a period of time as Minister of Information under Golda Meir’s government, Shimon Peres was appointed Minister of Defense, replacing Moshe Dayan, a position he held until 1977. While Minister of Defense, he revitalized and strengthened the Israel Defense Forces, and participated in the negotiations of the second interim agreement with Egypt.
During his term in office, he also masterminded the Entebbe hostage-rescue operation in 1976 and created the “Good Fence” on Israel’s border with Lebanon.
Following the resignation of Yitzhak Rabin in 1977, Shimon Peres became acting Prime Minister. After the 1977 elections, which placed the Labour Party in opposition, he was elected Chairman of the Labour Party, a post he held until 1992. He also became Vice-President of the Socialist International.
In the 1984 elections the Labour Party, headed by Shimon Peres, was the largest party but coalition necessities obliged it to form a national unity government.. Rotating with Mr. Yitzhak Shamir, he became Vice Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs two years later. From December 1988, until the dissolution of the National Unity Government in 1990, he served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.
On July 13, 1992, Shimon Peres became Minister of Foreign Affairs in the new Labour Government. During his term in office, he initiated the negotiations with Jordan and conducted the Oslo negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and on December 12, 1994, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in advancing peace in the Middle East.
Following the assassination of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on November 5, 1995, Shimon Peres became Prime Minister and Minister of Defense (November 1995), continuing to serve in this capacity until the May 1996 elections.
From the June 1996 elections, which placed the Labour Party in opposition, Shimon Peres served as Chairman of the Labour Party and head of the opposition. In June 1997 he resigned from this post.
In October 1997 Shimon Peres created the Peres Center for Peace with the aim of advancing Arab-Israeli joint ventures.
In July 1999, when Ehud Barak became Prime Minister in the wake of the elections, Shimon Peres was appointed Minister for Regional Cooperation in his government.
Also in 1999, he was made Honorary President of the Socialist International.
In March 2001 Shimon Peres was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in Ariel Sharon’s newly formed National Unity Government.
Following the 2003 elections, he again served as a member of the 16th Knesset and in June 2003, Shimon Peres was once again elected to the position of chairman of the Labour Party, and in this capacity, headed the opposition.
In January 2005, as head of the Labour Party, Shimon Peres again joined Ariel Sharon’s government as Vice Prime Minister. In the framework of his responsibilities he was active in the disengagement process from the Gaza Strip, and focused his attention on the promotion of economic cooperation with the Palestinians and the development of the Negev and the Galilee.
In the November 2005 Labour party primaries, Shimon Peres lost his chairmanship of the party, and together with the party, quit the government. He later resigned from the Labor Party, which had been his political home for decades. In readiness for the 2006 elections, Peres joined Ariel Sharon’s new Kadima party.
Kadima won the March 2006 elections, and Shimon Peres was again appointed Vice Prime Minister in Ehud Olmert’s government.
On June 13, 2007, the Knesset elected Shimon Peres to serve as the Ninth President of Israel.
Shimon Peres is married to Sonia (born Gelman) and has a daughter (Zvia), two sons (Yonathan and Nehemia) and seven grandchildren.
Shimon Peres has authored the following books:
“In Between Hatred and Neighborhood”(Hebrew – 1961)
“The Next Phase” (1965)
“David’s Sling” (1970)
“Tomorrow Is Now” (1978)
“Go With The Men – 7 Portraits” (1979)
“La Force De Vaincre” (French – 1981)
“Entebbe Diary” (1991)
“The New Middle East” (1993)
“Reading Diary – Letter to Authors” (1994)
“Battling For Peace” (1995)
“For the Future of Israel” (1997)
“New Genesis” (1998)
“Le Voyage Imaginaire” (1998)
“A Time for War, A Time for Peace”
Moshe Katsav, Former President of Israel
Moshe Katsav was born on the 1st of Tevet 5705 (December 5, 1945) in the city of Yazd, in central Iran. Yazd was called Little Jerusalem because of the abundance of Jewish schools for Torah study, religious sages, and synagogues. The manuscripts of the last prophets were also found in Yazd. Moshe’s parents were Goher and Shmuel; Moshe is the eighth descendent of the renowned Kabbalist Mullor Shraga. The Katsav family was part of the Babylonian exile — Jews who were exiled from the Land of Israel in the year 586 BCE, after the destruction of the first temple.
When Moshe was 1 year old, his family moved from Yazd to Tehran, where his father, Shmuel Katsav, worked as a janitor at the Jewish Koresh School, which belonged to the Alliance network. In August 1951, when Moshe was 5, his family immigrated to Israel. They initially lived in Shaar Haaliya, near Haifa (Moshe received the scar on his face when the family lived there). The young family (his father was 30, his mother 22, and his sister, Shoshana, 1) subsequently moved to the transit camp at Castina, which later changed its name to Kiryat Malachi.
During the severe flooding of the winter of 1951, the tents of the immigrant camp collapsed. His two-month old baby brother Zion died. (Another brother, Aharon, had died in Iran, in Yezd). Moshe was evacuated, with other children, to moshavs in the area. Moshe was evacuated to Kfar Bilu; his parents didn’t know where he had been moved. His worried parents finally found him living with the Sharir family in Kfar Bilu.
The Katsav family lived in a tent in the transit camp for 2 years, experiencing distress, unemployment, and scarce supplies. One day, when Moshe was playing among the tents, Ms. Rivka Gover, known as Mother of Sons, suggested that he study, and that day he began attending first grade in the Haachim School in Kiryat Malachi. Two years later, the family moved to a one-and-a-half-room hut, which had its own private toilet, albeit at some distance from the hut.
After 4 years of living in the hut, the family moved to a permanent semi-detached house with two and a half rooms.
Moshe Katsav first visited Jerusalem when Yanait Ben Zvi, wife of the then President, invited children from transit camps who had excelled in reading public library foundation books to visit the President’s House. During this visit, Moshe was received by the President’s wife and was embraced by Israel’s second President, Yitzhak Ben Zvi.
Moshe Katsav graduated from Kiryat Malachi’s primary school and decided to attend high school at the BenShemen Youth Village, where his studies profoundly affected him. In addition to his studies, Moshe specialized in agricultural work, milking cows and working in fruit tree plantations. He subsequently attended Beer-Tuvia High School. He finished his final examinations and was then drafted into the Israeli Defense Forces, serving in the Signal Corps in the Armored Corps Headquarters. Moshe was the eldest son of a family of nine children. His father was employed as a laborer in a linen thread factory and, later, as a watchman at the Marbak beef-butchering factory. To help support this large family, Moshe was given a lot of leave during his military service; he worked mainly in construction.
When Moshe was discharged from the Israel Defense Forces, he worked as a clerk in Bank Hapoalim and as an assistant in the Volcani Agricultural Research Institute. At that time, he also worked as a journalist at the Yedioth Aharonoth daily newspaper and served as the President of Bnei Brith Youth. There he met his wife Gila, a descendant of the Gur Hassids; her parents were from Poland and the Ukraine.
He saved money to finance his studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where he studied economics and history. He was the first student at the University from Kiryat Malachi.
As a student, he began his political activity and was elected as chairman of the Gachal student cell at the Hebrew University in 1969. During his studies, at age 24, he ran successfully for mayor of Kiryat Malachi, becoming the youngest mayor in the country.
Moshe participated in the Six-Day War at Sharm-A-Sheikh. In the Yom Kippur War, he served both in General Avraham Eden’s division and under Brigade Commander Brigadier General Natke Nir. Moshe was among the forces that crossed the Suez Canal, reaching the outskirts of Suez City.
In 1977, he ran successfully for the ninth Knesset in the Likud Party. Thus, Moshe became the first person raised in a development town to be elected to the Knesset. In the ninth Knesset, he held two concurrent posts: Knesset member and head of a council. In the tenth Knesset, Prime Minister Menahem Begin decided to appoint him Deputy Minister of Construction and Housing and in charge, on behalf of the government, of the government’s Neighborhood Restoration Project. The Neighborhood Restoration Project was undertaken jointly by the Government and Diaspora Jewry to restore poorer neighborhoods and to uplift thousands of the country’s citizens . This project, which brought about a social revolution in Israel, encompassed 84 poor neighborhoods in Israel and involved 240 Jewish communities throughout the world. In the eleventh Knesset, Moshe was elected Minister of Labor and Social Welfare in the government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. In this position he brought about the ratification by the government and the Knesset of the most up-to-date social laws, such as the Law of Nursing Care Insurance, which makes it possible to care for the aged who are not independent. This resulted in a substantial increase in the budget for the needy.
In the twelfth Knesset, Moshe was appointed Minister of Transport and a member of the Ministerial Committee for Security Affairs. During this period the transportation infrastructure developed greatly as did Israeli shipping and the El Al company. Moshe Katsav was the only Minister who started and completed the privatisation of government companies under his authority as Minister of Transport. In this position, he brought about airline relations with countries with which Israel did not have diplomatic relations, such as countries in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.
In the thirteenth Knesset, in 1992, upon being relegated to the opposition, Moshe was elected as Chairman of the Likud Party in the Knesset and Chairman of the Israel-China Friendship Association. In the fourteenth Knesset, he was elected Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism, and the Minister for Israeli Arabs.
In August 2000, the Knesset elected Moshe Katsav as President of the State of Israel.
· Born in Yezd, Iran, in 1945
· Immigrated to Israel in 1951
· Married to Gila, father of five and grandfather of six
· Resident of Kiryat Malachi since it was established in 1951
· “Ha’achim” Elementary School in Kiryat Malachi
· “Ben-Shemen” Youth Village High School
· Be’er Tuviya Regional High School
· Graduate of Hebrew University, School of Teaching
· Graduate of Hebrew University, Department of Economics and History
· Mayor of the Kiryat Malachi City Council, 1969, 1974-1981
· President of the Young Bnei Brith
· Chairman of the Gahal Party student faction at Hebrew University
· Chairman of the “Committee on Adoption,” headed by Justice Moshe Etzioni
· Chairman of the Committee to Fix Tuition in Institutions of Higher Education
· Member of the Board of Trustees of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
· Honorary doctorate from the University of Omaha, Nebraska, USA
· Honorary doctorate from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA
· Honorary doctorate from the University of Hartford, Connecticut, USA
· Honorary doctorate from Yeshiva University New York, USA
· Honorary Doctorate from Bar-Ilan University.
· Honorary Doctorate from the Agricultural University in Beijing, China.
· Honorary Doctorate from the Sorbonne University in Paris, France.