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Israel: The Begin Era
Country Study > Chapter 1 > Historical Setting > The Begin Era


In the May 1977 elections, the Labor Party's dominance of Israeli politics ended. The Likud Bloc -- an alliance of Begin's Herut Party, the Liberal Party, and other smaller parties formed in the aftermath of the October 1973 War -- formed a ruling coalition government for the first time in Israel's history. Likud gained forty-three seats, Labor dropped to thirty-two seats, down by nineteen from the 1973 figure. Likud's supporters consisted of disaffected middle-class elements alienated by the series of scandals, many new immigrants from the Soviet Union, and large numbers of defecting Oriental Jews. Begin appealed to many because he was viewed as incorruptible and untarnished by scandal. He was a strong leader who did not equivocate about his plans for a strong Israel (which he believed included the occupied territories), or about his willingness to stand up to the Arabs or even the superpowers if Israel's needs demanded. Begin also attracted some veteran Labor Zionists for whom his focus on Jewish settlement and self-reliance was reminiscent of an earlier unadulterated Labor Zionism.

Begin's vision of Israel and its role in the region was deeply rooted in the Revisionist platform with which he had been associated since the days of Jabotinsky. He strongly advocated Israeli sovereignty over all of Eretz Yisrael, which in his view included Jerusalem and the West Bank, but not Sinai.

Data as of December 1988

Last Updated: December 1988

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Israel was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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Section 35 of 206


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