Benny Begin

Benny Begin
Date of birth (1943-03-01) 1 March 1943
Place of birth Jerusalem, Mandatory Palestine
Knessets 12, 13, 14, 18, 20
Faction represented in Knesset
1988–1999, 2009-2013, 2015- Likud
1999 Herut – The National Movement
Ministerial roles
1996–1997 Minister of Science
2009–2013 Minister without Portfolio
2015 Minister without Portfolio

Ze'ev Binyamin Begin, (Hebrew: זאב בנימין בגין, born 1 March 1943) is an Israeli geologist and politician. He is a member of the Knesset for Likud, and is the son of former Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin.


Ze'ev Binyamin (Benny) Begin was born in Jerusalem to Aliza and Menachem Begin. He studied geology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After completing his undergraduate and graduate studies, he worked for the Geological Survey of Israel. He completed his doctorate in geology at Colorado State University in 1978.

Political career

First elected to the Knesset in 1988 as a Likud MK, Begin ran in the Likud primary in 1993 to succeed Yitzhak Shamir as party leader but was defeated by Benjamin Netanyahu. Under Netanyahu's government (1996–1999), Begin served as Science Minister until 1997 when he resigned in protest against the Hebron Agreement.

He subsequently led hardliners out of the Likud with the hope of reviving the Herut political party founded by his father. With full support from former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Herut – The National Movement departed from the Likud and joined other right-wing parties to form the National Union, an alliance opposing the Oslo Accords. Owing to the National Union's poor showing in the 1999 elections, Begin resigned his seat and quit politics.[1] He resumed his career in science and education, and was appointed Director of the Geological Survey of Israel.

Begin announced on 2 November 2008 his return to politics and the Likud party, as well as his intention to seek a place on the Likud list for the 2009 elections.[2] He ultimately won fifth place on the party's list, and returned to the Knesset with Likud winning 27 seats. Netanyahu had promised Begin a ministerial position if Likud won the election and honored that promise by appointing Begin a Minister without Portfolio in the new government.[3]

Begin did not run in the 2013 elections, but returned to politics in the 2015 elections running on the 11th place on the Likud party list, the spot reserved for a candidate appointed by party leader Netanyahu. Following the elections, he was appointed Minister without Portfolio in the new government. His term with the government lasted only 11 days. After Prime Minister Netanyahu convinced Gilad Erdan to join the government as Minister of Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy, Begin was forced to resign as Likud's coalition agreement limited the party to 13 ministers.[4]

Views and opinions

In an interview in Haaretz magazine, Begin explained his opposition to a Palestinian state, proposing instead an Arab autonomy under Israeli control, since "without security control in Samaria, Judea and Gaza there will be no security in Tel Aviv, either." He concluded with his belief that we must "live together with people who do not want us...[and] behave humanely and decently both with the Israeli citizens who are not Jews and with those who are not citizens. Is there a contradiction between my nationalism and my liberalism? I believe that this is a day-to-day effort to which I and he is obligated."[5]

Personal life

Begin is married, and had six children.[6] One son, Yonatan, was a fighter pilot with the Israeli Air Force who was killed when his F-16 fighter jet crashed in 2000. Another son, Avinadav, has become an anti-Zionist activist out of a general anti-nationalist ideology, and has engaged in pro-Palestinian demonstrations.[7][8]


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