Sun, 19 Sep 2021

JERUSALEM, June 13 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will become the leader of Israel's opposition late Sunday, as he has been forced out of office after 12 consecutive years, making him the country's longest-serving prime minister.

Netanyahu, aged 71, has been the most dominant figure in the Israeli political scene in recent decades.

For most of his term, Netanyahu took a hardline approach towards Israel's conflict with the Palestinians. Settlement expansion in the West Bank and Jerusalem continued largely uninterrupted, especially during the fours years of the Trump administration. Under Netanyahu, Israel fought three short wars with Hamas.

Throughout his tenure, Netanyahu was the loudest voice against the Iranian nuclear program on the international stage. In 2015, he went against then U.S. President Barrack Obama and addressed the U.S. Congress in an attempt to torpedo the Iranian nuclear deal, which he failed.

During Trump's years in the White House, Netanyahu enjoyed a friendly U.S. administration which not only turned a blind eye to settlement expansion but also recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The majority of the international community does not recognize Israel's sovereignty over the whole city, viewing the contentious matter as one to be settled in negotiations with the Palestinians.

Also under U.S. auspices, Netanyahu signed a series of peace accords with Arab countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco and Oman.

In his last year in office, Netanyahu faced a global pandemic. Criticized for his handling of the health and economic repercussions of COVID-19, he has been hailed as extricating Israel from the crisis quickly by conducting a highly efficient mass vaccination drive.

Israel resumed pre-pandemic life several months ago, with its economy largely bouncing back.

Netanyahu's recent years have been marred by scandals. He is currently on trial on several charges of corruption. Netanyahu has denied wrongdoings and the trial is expected to last for years.

It is his personal handling that led the country to four consecutive elections and an unprecedented political paralysis which has finally resulted in a government without the Likud or Netanyahu.

Netanyahu was also prime minister for a term between 1996 and 1999.

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