Dr. Benny Begin plans to compete for a place on the Likud
list for the 18th Knesset in the upcoming general elections.
Begin informed National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer on Sunday that he would be resigning from his post as head of the Geological Survey of Israel.
Begin confirmed to Ynet that he plans to return to politics, but refused to elaborate. He recently met with Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu
and Knesset Member Reuven Rivlin to discuss the move.
Former IDF Spokeswoman Brigadier-General (Res.) Miri Regev also announced on Sunday that she was joining the Likud party. In a joint press conference with Chairman Netanyahu, Regev said she was "unable to express my political beliefs until today, but the Likud's path has reflected mine throughout the years".
Netanyahu said, "We are witnessing a wave of (people) joining and returning to the Likud, and I am happy that many women are joining the movement."
Likud faction chairman, MK Gideon Sa'ar, welcomed Begin's decision.
"Begin will be a huge addition to the Likud ahead of its victory in the upcoming elections," Sa'ar said, adding that "Begin is a symbol of sticking to values and ideology, of incorruptibility and cleanliness."
Begin, who is considered one of the "princes" of the Likud and one of the most valued politicians in Israel,
served in the past as a Knesset member and science minister.
His father, Menachem Begin, was the State of Israel's sixth prime minister.
He retired from politics after the 1999 elections, and went back to engage in his profession of geology. He was appointed director of the Geological Survey of Israel and the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research (IOLR).
In 1988 Begin served as an MK, and in 1996 he was appointed minister under Netanyahu, but in 1997 he resigned over the approval of the Hebron accord and became a harsh critic of government policy.
In 1998, Begin resigned from the Likud party and established himself as chairman of the Herut – National Movement Party just days before the 1999 elections. When his party gained only four mandates in the elections, Begin announced his resignation from the Knesset and politics as a whole.
In March of 2000 Begin's life took a tragic turn when his son, Major Jonathan Begin, was killed in the crash of the F-16 jet he was piloting over Haifa. Over the years Begin's reputation, even among political opponents, has remained that of an honest and ethical man.
party source commented on Begin's decision by saying, "Begin did not return to the Likud, Bibi's Likud returned to Benny Begin.
"Remember, Begin quit the Likud in order to set up an extreme right-wing party. The Likud is adopting Begin's ways, which means the end to all political negotiations," the source added.
Across the political spectrum, Begin received much praise on his conduct in the past.
MK Zahava Gal-On, chairwoman of the Meretz
faction, welcomed his return by saying, "Begin is a bitter political adversary, because he is a hawk. Nonetheless, he is without a doubt a worthy, decent and honest man who will serve as a great reinforcement to the Likud as a party and to the Knesset that needs people like him," she added.
Gal-On also commended Begin's decision to run for a place on the Likud's list instead of requesting one be secured for him.
Likud MK Limor Livnat said she welcomes Benny Begin's decision to return to politics and to the Likud. "Begin is one of the most valued, honest and talented figures in the State of Israel and he will without a doubt strengthen the Likud significantly ahead of the battle that awaits us," she noted.
Former Deputy Minister Michael Ratzon also announced that he would be running for a place on the Likud's Knesset list. Ratzon told Ynet he welcomed Begin's decision to run, and that he also urged former Minister Uzi Landau to return to politics.
Likud officials have estimated that the party's primary elections would take place in December, and that until then Netanyahu would attempt to enlist other celebrities to his roster, such as former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon and
former Minister Dan Meridor.
Amnon Meranda contributed to this report