View from Tekoa in northern Judean desert
View from Tekoa in northern Judean desertNati Shohat/Flash 90

Newly rediscovered footage of a 1968 interview with David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, shows that he opposed communities in Judea and Samaria and instead favored returning most of the land Israel captured in the Six Day War - if the return led to peace.

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.

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 relinquish most of the territories it had taken a year earlier in the Six-Day War, but with a condition.

“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. Since Jerusalem is the core of the Palestinian Arab demands, left for final negotiations even in the far-reaching and failed Oslo Accords reached many years later, his statement was not a feasible option.

Ben-Gurion also criticized efforts to build communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, saying Jews should instead settle unpopulated areas of the Negev. The first Prime Minister saw the Negev as being of primary importance in building the Jewish State, but as it turned out, one area was not built at the expense of the other..

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.