Menachem Begin, Celebrating 75th, Hints He May Break His Seclusion

Former Premier Menachem Begin celebrated his 75th birthday Saturday amid rumors that he might break his five-year seclusion and perhaps even take part in Likud’s election campaign.

In an interview on army radio Sunday, Begin said he might speak out on his position on the war in Lebanon, but he did not say under what circumstances or when.

Premier Yitzhak Shamir was among the many who came to visit Begin at his Jerusalem home Saturday evening. Journalists were not allowed in. but the two leaders were said to discuss current events, among them the Gulf War.

Begin reportedly expressed full support for Shamir’s polices, particularly the premier’s insistence on direct peace negotiations and on the full implementation of the Camp David accords.

Begin also spoke about recent developments in the Soviet Union and the prospects for increased Jewish immigration to Israel.

Haaretz reported Sunday that Herut leaders have not given up on finding a way in which Begin would take part in the election campaign. There is talk of asking for a written statement from the former party head.

Similar hopes for Begin’s participation were raised in the previous election campaign. But even when the polls showed Likud trailing Labor, the popular Begin kept his silence.

Those who saw Begin on Saturday said he appeared to be alert and in good health. None, however — including his longtime secretary Yechiel Kadishai — would say when he might reappear in public.

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