Written by Staff Writer at CNN
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is touted as the nation’s most popular politician — and for good reason: he’s re-election campaigns have earned him a pretty high profile. The Economist even called him the world’s “most effective politician.”
The son of a rabbi, he was born on October 1, 1947, and has spent his entire life in the public eye. He attended a private orthodox religious school in Jerusalem before leaving home in the eighth grade to live with his grandparents. He then served in the Israeli Defense Forces before completing a degree in philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In the late 1990s, he started a business selling ladies’ handbags. He also served in the parliament from 1999 to 2009, and chaired the Likud party from 2005 to 2007.
Netanyahu’s political career has consistently been marked by controversy. In 2002, he was charged with conspiracy to bribe Israeli police chief Ashkenazi Shukron. The charges were later dropped. In 2004, he was linked to an alleged influence-peddling scandal related to gas sales. In 2007, he was implicated in the “Case 1000” — a high-profile investigation into an alleged criminal conspiracy involving cash gifts from wealthy businessmen. And in 2012, Israel’s attorney general announced charges against Netanyahu over two “Case 2000” corruption cases, but they were later dropped.
At 67, Netanyahu is the oldest leader ever to serve as Israeli prime minister.