Who is Netanyahu and how does his background prepare him for Trump?

This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Aerosmith; next week, he’ll host President Donald Trump.

Trump is expected to swing by Israel for two days as part of his first overseas trip as president. While there, Trump and Netanyahu will meet privately. The two men will also have a private dinner along with their wives.

American life

A graduate of MIT, Netanyahu’s ties to the U.S. are strong.

While he was born in Israel, Netanyahu also spent some time in a Philadelphia suburb, where he attended high school. Netanyahu’s father took a position teaching at Dropsie College, a research school of Judaic studies, and brought along his children, according to the Washington Post.

Netanyahu joined the Israel Defense Forces shortly after high school — so quickly that he didn’t even show up to graduation, the Washington Post reported.

Zelda Rae Stern, a classmate, told the New York Jewish Week in 2009 that although the two were friends, one day he just vanished.


“He was my friend. And then one day in 1967, he just wasn’t there anymore,” she said. “No messages, nothing.”

The New York Jewish Week described high school Netanyahu as a contrarian who “kept his hair short at a time when most boys wore their hair in a big swoop over their eyes.” He was a member of the school’s chess club, on the soccer team and missed Israel greatly.

Israeli service

Netanyahu first served as Israel’s prime minister for three years — from 1996 to 1999. He was elected again as prime minister in March 2009.

The leader of the right-wing Likud party, Netanyahu also served as the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.


He suddenly resigned his post as Minister of Finance in 2005 in protest of Israel’s planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu was a captain in the Israel Defense Force and was shot in 1972.

Netanyahu and Trump

In their first meeting of Trump’s presidency, Netanyahu praised the new U.S. president for his “friendship” and promised the continued support of the U.S. by Israel.

“There is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state,” Netanyahu said of Trump at the time.

But relations between the two leaders aren’t smooth — especially in the wake of reports that Trump shared classified information about ISIS with Russian officials. That information, which came from Israel, ignited security concerns due to the nature of the information and how it was obtained by Israelis.

Trump privately called Netanyahu for 20 minutes on May 18, but the two did not speak about the leaked intelligence, Israeli news site Haaretz reported.

Tensions between American diplomats and Israeli officials also spiked that week whenever a U.S. official reportedly brushed off requests for Netanyahu to join Trump as he visits the Western Wall — a holy but controversial site that no sitting American president has visited, according to the Times of Israel.

The Israeli newspaper reported that the U.S. official rudely responded to requests about Netanyahu’s attendance and the presence of cameras by stating that the Western Wall is “none of your business” and “not even part of your responsibility.”

“It’s not your territory. It’s part of the West Bank,” the senior official said, according to the Times of Israel.

In a statement, the White House said the comments were not “authorized communication” and “do not represent the position of the United States” or Trump.

Trump also reportedly put on hold plans to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — despite his campaign promise to do so.