Ben-Gurion favored West Bank withdrawal, new film shows

Julie Wiener

David Ben-Gurion at a conference in Tel Aviv on Dec. 15, 1947. (GPO)

David Ben-Gurion at a conference in Tel Aviv, Dec. 15, 1947. (Israeli Government Press Office)

(JTA) — Newly rediscovered footage of a 1968 interview with David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, shows that he opposed West Bank settlements and instead favored returning most of the land Israel captured in the Six-Day War.

The six-hour interview with Ben-Gurion — segments of which appear in a new film called “Ben-Gurion Epilogue” — had been forgotten until filmmaker Yariv Mozer found them in the Hebrew University’s Jewish film archive, according to the Times of Israel.

At the time of the interview Ben-Gurion, a member of the Labor party, had left politics and was living on Kibbutz Sde Boker in the Negev.

Ben-Gurion said in the interview that Israel should immediately relinquish most of the territories it had taken a year earlier in the Six-Day War.

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“If I could choose between peace and all the territories which we conquered last year, I would prefer peace,” he said, adding however that Israel should retain Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

Ben-Gurion also criticized efforts to build settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, saying Jews should instead settle unpopulated areas of the Negev.

Ben-Gurion, who was prime minister from Israel’s founding in 1948 until 1953 and again from 1955 to 1963, died in 1973 at 87.