Begin, Menachem (Wolfovitch)

Begin, Menachem (Wolfovitch)


Menachem Begin, 1987.—Ralph Crane/Camera Press from Globe Photos

(b. Aug. 16, 1913, Brest-Litovsk, Russia—d. March 9, 1992, Tel Aviv, Israel) Prime minister of Israel (1977–83). He earned a law degree from the University of Warsaw, Pol. During World War II (1939–45) the Soviet authorities sent him to Siberia, but he was soon released to join the Polish army in exile. He escaped to Palestine, where he became leader in 1943 of the Irgun Zvai Leumi (a right-wing underground movement in favour of a Jewish state). From 1948 to 1977 he led the opposition in the Israeli Knesset, except for three years when he sat in the Government of National Unity (1967–70). As head of the Likud party coalition, he became prime minister in 1977. He shared the 1978 Nobel Prize for Peace with Anwar el-Sadat for negotiations that resulted in the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty. His 1982 invasion of Lebanon turned world opinion against Israel, and he resigned in 1983. See also Arab-Israeli wars; Vladimir Jabotinsky.

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