Menahem Begin – Likud Party Winner, Israeli Elections

A television interview for ABC News. After he is elected but before he assumes office Begin already faces disagreements with the Carter Administration, with Clark and Seamans asking about those disagreements and his commitment to peace. Carter says Israel should withdraw from nearly all of the territories captured in 1967 while Begin says Judea and Samaria are integral and permanent part of Israel and there is existential danger in giving them up. Begin insists he is willing to negotiate peace with all Arab countries but not the PLO. When challenged over possibly losing American economic and military aid Begin counters that the relationship with America is mutually beneficial. Israel is keeping Communism out of the Middle East, Begin says.

Gideon Lev-Ari interviews Menahem Begin

An interview Begin gave to Israeli reporter Gideon Lev-Ari during the American “reassessment” of 1975. Begin notes the change in the Arab world’s stated demands from the total destruction of Israel to a withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, but says that the Arab goal of destroying Israel has not changed, only the rhetoric. Begin says there must be a full end to hostilities, followed by direct peace negotiations. Then Israel must give the ‘Arabs of Eretz Israel’ (Begin’s term for the Arabs known as Palestinians living in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria) full cultural autonomy and the option of Israeli citizenship but not national autonomy. The Israel-US relationship will continue to survive disagreements between the two countries. Israel must learn from the Munich agreement not to give in when it is threatened by its enemies and pressured to give in by its friends. In the end, peace will come

Jerusalem is Not Phnom-Penh

Begin very clearly outlines the goals of Israel as: “peace treaty, declaration on the establishment of peaceful relations, ceasefire, armistice, non-belligerence, and a state of war and its annulment.” Begin accuses Dr. Kissinger of trying to deprive Israel of what it needs, a peace treaty. He says that without a peace treaty, there can be no transference of territory, except, according to Kissinger, in Israel. Likud urges the Prime Minister to not retreat until Egypt has annulated the state of war, meaning no withdrawal from the land without a peace treaty. He says that if Israel were to comply with Egypt’s demands and retreat, Israel would be in the same position as the war-torn Vietnamese city Phnom-Penh, “within the range of the enemy’s guns.” Even America, he says, cannot help alleviate the situation there because of the gunfire of the Khmer Rouge forces. He says, “They are what our enemies wish for us,” as he urges the public to stand tall, not to retreat, and defend Israel.

The Only Way to True Peace

In the Rosh Hashanah edition, Begin writes about his method to achieve true peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. After the Six-Day War, in 1970, the Government addressed relations with its neighbors according to four principles, a key one being that retreat would not happen before true peace agreements. Since then, however, the Government’s principles have faded, and there has been retreat from land before peace progress. Begin speaks about the Yom Kippur War and threats from Arab neighbors. One threat is that even total retreat by Israel will not bring peace. An additional threat is that after Israel retreats, Israel will need to restore Palestinian rights. Begin argues that Israel must go back to its original principles. He continues to say that if Israel hands over territory prior to peace agreements, Israel will receive war. He concludes that he wants security and peace for Israel, which Israel’s neighbors have yet to offer.

We Seek a Mandate from the Nation to Form a Government

An interview Begin gave to Rafael Bashan of Yediot Aharonot during the negotiations for the formation of the Likud bloc. Begin asserts that there is a strong common denominator between the various parties that are trying to form this new bloc. Contrary to rumors that Begin chose the name ‘opposition alignment’ no name had as yet been chosen for the new bloc. The time of the National Unity Government is over, and a one-party government would not function better but would be worse for democracy. The government, while not being able to carry out the program, had undertaken to give back parts of Judea and Samaria. Begin believes that the public needed to see a party staying 100% committed to its principles. He is proud of his demand in 1967 that Moshe Dayan be made the Minister of Defence because the national unity government that resulted greatly helped Israeli and IDF morale in the days leading up to the Six Day War. Begin demands settlement of all of the Land of Israel.