So he’s a bit of a ham, this writer. Still, it’s an interesting bit of Begin history and the point of it is no less interesting: who cares whether they accept Israel’s right to exist?
SO WHEN, on the first day of his premiership in 1977, he was waylaid by a tall, debonair, rakishly good-looking Englishman in a bow tie and a perfectly pitched BBC announcer’s voice, and saucily asked whether he looked forward to a time when the Palestinians would recognize Israel, his jaw tightened in restrained Jewish anger. But honed as he was by years of legal training, he answered with the composed demeanor of a practiced jurist, saying, “Traditionally, there are four major criteria of statehood under international law. One – an effective and independent government. Two – an effective and independent control of the population. Three – a defined territory. And four – the capacity to freely engage in foreign relations. Israel is in possession of all four attributes and, hence, is a fully fledged sovereign state and a fully accredited member of the United Nations.”
“But, surely, you would insist, would you not, that the relevant Palestinian organizations recognize Israel as a sine qua non for negotiations with them?” persisted the fellow.
“Certainly not! Those so-called relevant organizations are gangs of murderers bent on destroying the State of Israel. We will never conduct talks about our own destruction.”
“And were they to recognize Israel’s existence – would you then negotiate with them?” pressed the correspondent.
“Because I don’t need Palestinian recognition for my right to exist.”