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Menachem Begin was born in Brest-Litovsk, Russia (now Brest, in Belarus), studied law in Warsaw, and fled to the USSR in 1939.
He was leader of the extremist Irgun Zvai Leumi organisation in Palestine from 1942 (he was responsible in 1946 for a bomb attack at the King David Hotel, Jerusalem, which killed over 100 people) and prime minister of Israel from 1977 to 1983, as head of the right-wing Likud party.
In 1978 he and Sadat were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1981 Begin won a new term of office but his health was failing.
The death of his wife in 1982 was a grave blow, resulting in his retirement in September 1983. For the rest of his life he was a virtual recluse.