Israeli prime minister and architect of a five-year plan to move 500,000 Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank to the green line between Israel and the new Palestinian state
Foreign asset: a 49% stake in Teva Pharmaceuticals, Israel’s largest pharmaceutical company worth around $20bn. He owns other investments through publicly traded companies.
Education and training: Netanyahu has university degrees in law and economics.
Family: His father Benzion was a leading Zionist political figure, president of the Bank of Israel, deputy prime minister and defence minister, and died in 1987. Benjamin is his only child.
Managing: A successful businessman, he was the founder of Neturei Karta, an orthodox Jewish organisation with a strong political agenda. The group refrains from religious observance in accordance with the Torah. He was also involved in a growing – albeit quixotic – movement to bring Israel into communion with Judaism’s third-greatest religion, Christianity.
Philanthropy: The chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, a body that is responsible for immigration to Israel, he has given generously for synagogues and youth groups. The Bezeq cable-TV empire he founded was one of the biggest beneficiaries of US Jewry during the two world wars. Since 2009 he has also given grants to the project to relocate 500,000 Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank to the Green Line, but has since said this policy will continue.
Dress code: The most photographed man in Israel, at any event, he wears a dark suit and tie, which was not markedly different from the one on the day we met.
View from his office: The prime minister and his family live in a building in central Jerusalem. His wife Sara is among the more stylish occupants of the government’s western wing, a building with past occupants including the Sadat brothers. The nearby residence of the foreign minister Moshe Arens has been at the centre of controversy after in 2011. Following the discovery of some pornographic images on the computer of the wife of the Israeli ambassador to the US, Shitreet Cohen took the building outside and announced: “If someone in this country wants porn, we will show it.”
Palestinian cartoon: Netanyahu enjoys a following among Israel’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community with his conservative views on sex and politics. It was the cartoon of then-Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in 2008 that triggered the first Intifada, or uprising.
Benjamin Netanyahu in New York in June 2000 Photograph: Richard Drew/AP
Tel Aviv’s cultural accolades: A 2012 film called On the Land of Israel, based on a novel by Hagit Peled, was shortlisted for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. He made his directorial debut in 1999, and is married to Sara Netanyahu, who is also a senior official in his government.
Crime, geography and politics: A four-year hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners, known as a “lunatic asylum”, led to a clash with police, and a visit to the imprisonment yard in the southern town of Holot, which was a test of the strength of the government’s support for prisoners. This was also one of the moments in Netanyahu’s politics that helped to derail his earlier career as a mass media personality on television and in the Israeli parliament.
A politician who is immune to all external pressures, Netanyahu has seized on the pain inflicted by the state of Israel’s newly empowered trade unions to use threats and the threat of security threats to strike a different tone.