‘Benny’ Begin leaving politics after poor showing in electionsby JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Hawkish Israeli legislator Ze'ev "Benny" Begin has announced he is resigning from politics., Begin, who withdrew from the race for prime minister one day before Israelis went to the polls this week, said Wednesday he had
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Begin, son of the late Likud Prime Minister Menachem Begin, is a geologist by training who has served in the Knesset since 1988.
He was science minister in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu until he resigned the post in January 1997 to protest the Hebron agreement, under which Israel turned over most of the West Bank town to Palestinian control. He quit the Likud Party earlier this year and formed his own party.
As leader of the National Unity Party, a coalition of right-wing legislators opposed to the Oslo accords, he would have been able to assume one of the four Knesset seats the party won in Monday's vote.
Despite his hawkish views, Begin was uniformly admired by fellow legislators for his directness and integrity.
Yossi Sarid, leader of the far-left Meretz Party, said Wednesday he was deeply saddened by Begin's decision and called on him to retract it. Labor Party Knesset member Dalia Itzik said Begin was a symbol of integrity and his departure would be a blow to public life.
Likud Knesset member Reuven Rivlin said the resignation symbolized the demise of Israel's nationalist camp.
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