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Menachem Begin

Begin, Menachem (mĕnäˈkhĕm bāˈgĭn) [key], 1913–92, Zionist leader and Israeli prime minister (1977–83), b. Russia. He became (1938) leader of a Zionist youth movement in Poland, where he also earned a law degree. Begin went to Palestine in 1942; there, he headed the Irgun, a militant organization that fought against the British Mandate authorities. After 1949 he sat in the Knesset, where he led the opposition to the Labor party. In May, 1977, Begin's right-wing Likud party defeated Labor for the first time, and Begin became prime minister. He shared the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize with Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat as a result of the Camp David accords. In 1982, Begin authorized a massive invasion of Lebanon in order to destroy military bases of the Palestine Liberation Organization (see Arab-Israeli Wars). The war caused intense domestic and international pressure and failed to achieve Israel's principal aims. Begin resigned from office in 1983.

See A. Perlmutter, The Life and Times of Menachem Begin (1987).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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