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Menachem Begin

israel israeli forces fought

Begin, Menachem (1913–92), Israeli prime minister, 1977–83. Begin was active in the Zionist Movement's effort to create a Jewish state in the 1930s and 1940s. He was a member and leader (1944–48) of the Irgon Zvai Leumi, an organization that fought for the creation of Israel. He fought in the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. He was elected to the Knesset (parliament) in 1948, with Israel's independence, and was an opposition leader for most of the next 30 years, pressing Israel's claim to the West Bank of the Jordan River and refusing to consider sovereignty for the Palestinians. Begin signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979; in 1978 he shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. In 1982 Begin launched a much criticized invasion of Lebanon intended to destroy command and military units of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). Israeli forces succeeded in driving out the PLO but also occupied West Beirut, a move that was very unpopular in Israel and abroad. Israeli forces were accused of allowing the massacre of Palestinian civilians in refugee camps during their occupation. The Israelis withdrew most of their forces between 1983 and 1985. Since this event Begin remained in almost total, self-imposed seclusion and made rare public statements.

See also: Israel.

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