Benzion Netanyahu (left) was born Benzion Milikovsky in Warsaw on March 10, 1910
A picture from the Israeli Government Press office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) with his father Benzion at a ceremony at Mount Hertzel in Jerusalem in 2010. Benzion Netanyahuhas died at the age of 102, the premier's bureau says. © AVI OHAYON - AFP
Benzion Netanyahu (left) was born Benzion Milikovsky in Warsaw on March 10, 1910
Last updated: April 30, 2012

Israel Prime Minister's father dies aged 102

Benzion Netanyahu, father of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a prominent right-wing historian, died at his home in Jerusalem early on Monday, the premier's bureau said. He was 102.

A professor of mediaeval Spanish Jewish history, Netanyahu was born Benzion Milikovsky in Warsaw on March 10, 1910 and immigrated with his family to Palestine under the British Mandate in 1920.

He married his wife Tzila in 1944 and had three sons, Benjamin, Ido and the eldest Yoni, who was killed during a hostage rescue attempt in Entebbe, Uganda in 1976.

A fervent supporter of the nationalist right, Netanyahu served for 30 years as secretary to Zeev Jabotinsky, the founder of the Revisionist Zionist movement out of which his son's ruling right-wing Likud party emerged.

During his son's first term as premier (1996-2000), the elder Netanyahu criticised him for having accepted a partial withdrawal from the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank.

In 2005, he signed a petition along with several other right-wing intellectuals opposing Israel's withdrawal of all soldiers and settlers from the Gaza Strip under the disengagement plan of then premier Ariel Sharon, describing the operation as "a crime against humanity."

The Israeli leader has often said his father exercised a major influence over him.

When the burial society arrived to take the body of Netanyahu senior from the house where he had lived in Jerusalem's Old Katamon neighbourhood, the premier and his wife Sarah could be seen giving their goodbyes, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.

Police cordoned off the street and security officials were on hand as the couple watched the body taken away accompanied by their youngest son, who was wiping his eyes and blowing his nose.

The funeral was to take place at 5:00 pm (1400 GMT) at the Givat Shaul cemetery on the western outskirts of Jerusalem.

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