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Yechiam Weitz

This article deals with the disappearance of Menachem Begin, the leader and the chairman of the Herut movement and the sixth Prime Minister of Israel (1977-1983). He disappeared from the political arena for about half a year: from the defeat of his party in the elections of the Second Knesset (26 July 1951) until the debate in the Knesset about the reparations from West Germany. Four central topics will be discussed: (1) the reasons for his disappearance; (2) his whereabouts and activities during that period; (3) the reason for his return to the political arena and the connection between his return and the debate about the reparations; and (4) the significance of this story for Begin's biography.

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Yechiam Weitz

abstract

This article examines the major changes in the Israeli political arena, on both the left and right, in the two years before the 1967 War. The shift was marked by the establishment in 1965 of the right-wing Gahal (the Herut-Liberal bloc) and of the Labor Alignment, the semi-merger of Israel’s two main left-wing parties, Mapai and Ahdut HaAvodah. Some dissatisfied Mapai members broke away from the Alignment and formed a new party, Rafi, under the leadership of David Ben-Gurion. They did not gain nearly enough Knesset seats to take power in the November 1965 election, but Rafi did become part of the emergency national unity government that was formed in June 1967, due largely to the weak position of Levi Eshkol as prime minister. This enabled Rafi’s Moshe Dayan to assume the minister of defense position on the eve of the Six-Day War, which began on 5 June 1967.