LONDON (Feb. 21)
Former Israeli Premier Menachem Begin was quoted here tonight as saying there was a likelihood that he would return to active politics, but that he had not finally decided on a date.
In an interview to appear in tomorrow’s Jewish Chronicle, Begin also spoke freely on a number of Middle East issues, including Lebanon, and possible new peace talks.
He declared himself unhappy over present Israeli government policy on troop withdrawals from Lebanon; flatly opposed PLO chairman Yasir Arafat’s participation in negotiations; and said talks with Jordan should be held only in the framework of Camp David.
Chronicle foreign editor Joseph Finklestone, who interviewed Begin by telephone from London, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency tonight that the former Premier sounded well and cheerful, even giving the occasional chuckle. Begin, 71, has spent the past three years living in seclusion in a Jerusalem apartment, reportedly suffering from depression at the death of his wife.
The 15-minute interview followed Israeli press reports that Begin was contemplating a political comeback. Finklestone said he gained the impression that Begin was serious about such a move which, if it happened, would be reminiscent of the late David Ben Gurion’s return to politics from retirement in a Negev kibbutz.