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Israel’s Netanyahu To Quit Politics

May 24, 1999

JERUSALEM (AP) _ In the wake of a crushing electoral defeat, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will bow out of politics later this week in order to write a book and seek his fortune on the U.S. lecture circuit, aides said Monday.

Netanyahu, 49, who resigned as head of the Likud Party soon after exit polls forecast his landslide loss May 17, also plans to surrender his seat in the 120-member Knesset at a Thursday meeting of the Likud Central Committee, aides said.

Spokesman Aviv Bushinsky said Netanyahu felt ``it’s better to step down for a while and not be involved, and then he’ll see if he wants to return to politics.″

Netanyahu planned to write a book about his three years in office and had offers to address business groups, universities, Jewish organizations and institutes, many in the United States, media adviser David Bar-Illan said.

``Political life has a very broad definition. If he lectures around the world, it is hardly leaving politics,″ Bar-Illan said.

Time-Warner Books in New York said they are releasing on June 15 a hardcover book called ``A Durable Peace: Israel and Its Place Among the Nations,″ which is an update of Netanyahu’s 1993 book, ``A Place Among The Nations.″

According to the daily Yediot Ahronot, Netanyahu joked about lucrative book offers with staff members at a going-away party at his Jerusalem home Sunday.

``I read in the papers that I was offered a million and a half dollars for my book. Where are these publishers? I hereby announce that anyone who brings me this offer can have a 10 percent commission,″ Netanyahu was quoted as saying.

As a member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, Netanyahu would earn $75,000 a year but would not be able to receive payment for lectures or appearances, according to Knesset spokesman Giora Pordes. He would likely earn far more on the lecture circuit.

Bushinsky said Netanyahu, who earned $94,000 a year as prime minister, told him that he has no interest at the moment in going into business. He denied reports that Netanyahu had job offers from cosmetics magnate Ron Lauder and Ira Rennert, a tycoon whose company makes Humvee vehicles.

Netanyahu has made no media appearances since he conceded defeat. On Sunday, he did not even convene his Cabinet for its weekly meeting.

Likud lawmaker Doron Shmueli said he dropped by Netanyahu’s office for a chat and found him a changed man.

``Bibi Netanyahu is totally different, calmer, more relaxed,″ said Shmueli, using the premier’s nickname.

Shmueli, speaking on Israel television, contended Netanyahu had not made a final decision on keeping the Knesset seat.

Uri Elitsur, director of the prime minister’s office, said Netanyahu plans to keep running the government until a new ruling coalition is assembled by Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak, who has until early July to accomplish the task.

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