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Netanyahu to pass Ben-Gurion in time served, but not in stature

Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, and its incumbent prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who will soon break the record set by the former as the country's longest-serving premier, represent opposing worldviews and aspirations.
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After Benjamin Netanyahu’s role as Israeli ambassador to the United Nations came to an end in 1988, he returned to Israel. Practically an unknown at the time, he convened a press conference to announce his decision to join the Likud and enter politics. The “Likud princes” — a group of young front-runners marked to lead Likud the “day after” Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir — belittled the political neophyte. Ehud Olmert, Dan Meridor, Roni Milo and their friends didn’t really accept the strange bird with fluent English and an American accent who having come from the United States acted like he'd discovered the place. Most did not realize that they were about to confront the most elaborate, state-of-the art and lethal political machine in the history of modern Israeli politics.

The only one who identified the threat was Reuven Rivlin, a relatively minor Knesset member at the time but a long-term, experienced Beitar movement member. He warned the princes: Don’t underestimate this guy, Rivlin said. He’s here to stay, and he has come to eliminate you before you know what has hit you. The princes shook their heads in pity for Rivlin. Today, Rivlin can shake his head at them. Netanyahu has succeeded in removing everyone else from the Israeli political scene, President Reuven Rivlin being the exception.

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