ISRAELI PM Benjamin Netanyahu is set to dramatically exit politics following a colourful career laden with scandal and controversy.
During his time as leader, the 71-year-old has been accused of corruption and was once even forced to admit to having an affair live on TV.
Netanyahu came into politics in the 1980s having grown up in Tel Aviv with his Israeli-born mother Tzila Segal, Polish father Professor Benzion and his brothers Jonathon and Iddo.
Having served as a commando unit officer himself, the future PM had started his career on the back of a tragedy when Jonathon was killed in 1976 during a military operation to rescue hostages at Entebbe airport in Uganda.
The fallen soldier was regarded as a national hero and the Netanyahu name soon became legendary in Israel.
Yet, as Benjamin began to rise through the ranks, it wasn’t long before that same name was tarnished as he became entangled with a number of scandals that would soon blot his career.
In 1993, Netanyahu found himself in a unenviable position as he took to live TV to claim he was being blackmailed over an alleged sex tape with a woman who was believed to be his aide and not his wife.
Appearing on the main television news program Mabat at a time when he running to be the head of the Likud Party, he said he was being targeted by “one man, surrounded by a not-small group of criminals.”
During the famed interview he added: “We know who is behind this attempt.”
“Whoever uses methods of spying, recording and breaking in, is not worthy to be a leader and should be in prison.”
However, a police investigation came up with nothing, and did not even find proof that a tape existed, or that Netanyahu had ever actually been blackmailed.
In fact, many in the political field believed that this had been a tactic by Netanyahu to make himself look like a victim rather than a husband cheating on a young wife with two small children at home.
Either way, Netanyahu was invariably left with egg on his face and swiftly apologised to his wife Sara in the process.
Meanwhile, news of the politician’s scandalous act soon circulated across the nation as it became known as the “Hot Tape Affair.”
The shock discovery followed a string of failed marriages, which had been blighted by similar acts of adultery.
During his time in the armed forces, Netanyahu met his first wife, Miriam Weizmann, whom he married and shared a daughter Noa.
However, while Weizmann was pregnant, Netanyahu met a non-Jewish British student named Fleur Cates at a university where his wife was studying, and began an affair.
Upon Miriam’s shocking discovery, his marriage ended in divorce soon afterwards.
In 1981, Netanyahu then married Cates, where she converted to Judaism, but they too divorced three years later in 1984.
Initially his private life had not deterred him in his career where he gained the party leadership of the right-wing Likud party in 1993.
Three years later he would lead a successful campaign winning his first election into office as Prime Minister of Israel in 1996.
But, after losing the 1999 election, he temporarily retired from politics amid his own criticisms of the media's intrusion into his private life.
Following a political revival during the 2000s Netanyahu then seeked to reclaim his influence and was eventually elected back to his role as PM in 2009.
He would then become the county’s longest serving leader, despite being a polarising figure at home and abroad
A sense that he was living on borrowed time as a 'political survivor' was eventually compounded by criminal charges over alleged favours to media tycoons and illegal receipt of expensive cigars and champagne.
The allegations led to him being dubbed "crime minister".
Netanyahu has since denied all wrongdoing and says, without offering any evidence, that he is a victim of a deep state conspiracy against him that dates back decades.
His wife Sara, who remained by his side despite the alleged affair in the early 1990s, was embroiled in a legal charges after being being charged with fraud over misuse of public funds on June 21, 2018.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported she was accused of misusing roughly $100,000 of public funds for catering services at the prime minister's Jerusalem home.
But, on 16 June 2019, Netanyahu signed a plea deal and was convicted of misusing state funds, with the more severe charge of fraud being dropped.
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