Israel’s 18th government, with Prime Minister Menachem Begin at the helm, in power from June 1977 to August 1981, embodied a new, accelerated phase in Israel’s settlement policy in the occupied territories. This policy was succinctly expressed in Begin’s famous declaration during a visit with the Elon Moreh settlement group shortly after his election win. The group had received permission to settle in the Kadum military base after several attempts to establish a settlement in Sebastia without approval. Begin told the settlers: “Soon, there will be many Elon Morehs.” In a letter to Prime Minister Begin, Deputy Minister of Defense Mordechai Tzipori warns of the danger of unapproved settlements and suggests evacuating the settlers in Atzmona and Hebron.
Deputy Minister Tzipori’s letter was sent against the backdrop of ongoing efforts by the settlement movement to build new settlements in the occupied territories. Tzipori warns Prime Minister Begin of the implications of settlement activity carried out without government approval, and the threat it posed to the government’s credibility and Israel’s international standing. His recommendation to evacuate Atzmona and Beit Hadassah was not accepted.