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Prime Minister Netanyahu set for political longevity history

Benjamin Netanyahu will become Israel’s longest serving prime minister, passing David Ben-Gurion, next Saturday.

Ben-Gurion served 4,872 days, from the establishment of the state in May 1948 until early 1954, and again from November 1955 to June 1963. Netanyahu’s first term in office lasted from 1996 to 1999, and his current term began on March 31, 2009.

“Its significance is just prestige and symbolism,” said Israel Democracy Institute researcher Ofer Kenig. “If it was up to Netanyahu, I bet he’d prefer to celebrate his achievement under different circumstances, with his future not up in the air. On the one hand he can celebrate, and on the other, this is a challenging time for him.”

The next longest serving prime ministers after Ben-Gurion and Netanyahu are Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin, and Menachem Begin. The shortest was Ehud Barak, who was forced out after only 610 days in office.

Kenig said Netanyahu’s next goal can be to outlast Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German chancellor Angela Merkel as the longest serving leaders of OECD countries. Netanyahu is the 16th longest serving leader of an established democracy since the end of World War II, and will pass two more by the September 17 election. The longest serving leader of a post-WWII Western country was Sweden’s Tage Erlander, who served for 8,404 days from 1946 to 1969, Kenig found.

Netanyahu’s longevity was highlighted in a new Time Magazine cover story. “The unpleasant reality is that Netanyahu approaches the career summit with his personal power arguably at its greatest risk,” the article said.


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