PM Begin in an Interview with Barbara Walters and Walter Cronkite

Begin addressed the halting of settlement construction for the duration of the Palestinian negotiations in an interview shortly after the Camp David Accords were signed, noting a difference of opinion with the US government on the matter. Begin outlined the autonomy plan’s fundamental elements and defended the morality of Judea and Samaria’s settlements, expressing a wish to end military authority in the region. Later, Begin considered the prospect of negotiating a peace treaty with Jordan and other Arab countries, saying that Egyptian-Israeli relations and the Palestinian Arabs’ solution are not interwoven.

Subsequently, Begin emphasized his desire to follow in the footsteps of Camp David and use the US government’s aid in drafting a peace pact. He proposed providing facilities for the US navy in the Mediterranean and establishing US bases in Sinai, but denied the conception of stationing US soldiers in Judea and Samaria so that Israel could defend itself independently against its surrounding enemies. However, he noted that Israel sought military assistance from the US in order to do so, acknowledging Israel’s contribution to US national security. Begin went on to discuss his Camp David experiences, his impressions of Carter as a negotiator, and the sticking points in the negotiations over the legal status of Jerusalem.

A Free People–Or a Police State

Begin speaks to the Knesset, expressing concern that the Government has not proceeded to formulate a constitution for Israel. He starts with an example to show that without a constitution, the Government can follow laws from the British Mandate. Then Begin explains that currently Israelis do not have privacy, and that their right to privacy will be secure only with a constitution. Additionally, Begin explains that, currently, one is discriminated against if that person is not aligned with Mapai’s views. The mistrust the Government has for its citizens will lead Israel to become a police State. To prevent this, a constitution is necessary. Begin identifies that the people opposing a constitution, also were the people willing to give up part of Eretz Israel. Begin concludes with two options to move forward: the Government begins drafting a constitution, or the Government arranges a plebiscite.