On this day: Menachem Begin leaves office

September 15 1983: Israel’s sixth prime minister and the first Likud leader in that office resigns after six years

By Jennifer Lipman, September 15, 2010
Menachem Begin in 1978

Menachem Begin in 1978

Born in Poland in 1913, Mr Begin arrived in what was then British Mandate Palestine in 1943, having spent part of the Holocaust in a Siberian labour camp.

In the years leading up to Israel’s independence he led the militant underground organisation Irgun, commanding operations against British rule including the bombing of the King David hotel in Jerusalem.

Irgun disbanded after 1948, and Mr Begin was elected to the Knesset in 1949 for the right-wing opposition party Herut, the foundation for Likud. In 1977 Mr Begin’s party won power and the next year he signed the Camp David Accords, the groundbreaking peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.

His resignation, prompted by the death of his wife and his own ill-health, saw him retire from public life. He died at the age of 79 in 1992.

What the JC said: Mr Begin had meant what he said – he had decided to go and nothing would change that decision…As the news spread, crowds gathered outside the Prime Minister’s home in the Jerusalem suburb of Rechavia, chanting: “Menachem Begin is king.

See more from the JC archives here

Last updated: 4:11pm, September 16 2010