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Israel: Appendix B. Political Parties and Organizations
Country Study > Appendices > Appendix B. Political Parties and Organizations

APPENDIX B. POLITICAL PARTIES AND ORGANIZATIONS


Agudat Israel (Society of Israel) - A clericalist political party of ultra-Orthodox Jews, founded in Poland in 1912 and established in Palestine in the early 1920s. In 1949 it formed part of the United Religious Front (qv); in 1955 and 1959 it joined Poalei Agudat Israel to form the Torah Religious Front (qv). Originally anti- Zionist and messianic, in the 1980s this non-Zionist party, together with its Council of Torah Sages, still favored a theocracy and increased state financial support for its religious institutions.

Ahdut HaAvoda (Unity of Labor) - The party, founded in 1919 as successor to Poalei Tziyyon (qv), had three separate existences: from 1919 to 1930, when it merged with HaPoel HaTzair (qv) to form Mapai (qv); in 1944 its name was taken over by Siah B (Bet -- Faction B), a faction that split from Mapai and formed a new party with HaKibbutz HaMeuhad (United Kibbutz Movement); and the last beginning in 1954 when Ahdut HaAvoda was reconstituted by the HaKibbutz HaMeuhad faction when it broke off from Mapam (qv). Ahdut HaAvoda was aligned with Mapai from 1965 to 1968 when both were absorbed into the Labor Party.

Arab Democratic Party - An Israeli Arab party founded in 1988 by Abdel Wahab Daroushe, a former Labor Party Knesset member.

Betar - A Revisionist Zionist youth organization founded in 1923 in Riga, Latvia, under the influence of Jabotinsky; it later formed the nucleus for Herut.

Citizens' Rights Movement (CRM) - Founded in 1973 by Shulamit Aloni, a former Labor Party Knesset member, the CRM advocates strengthening civil rights in Israel and greater compromise on Israeli-Palestinian issues.

Degel HaTorah (Torah Flag) - Formed in 1988, the clericalist party is a Shas (qv)-led Ashkenazi spinoff among the ultra-Orthodox community.

Democratic Movement for Change (DMC) - Founded in 1976 by Yigal Yadin and several other groups, of which the principal one was Shinui (qv). It broke up in 1979 when Shinui left over the issue of continued participation in the Likud government.

Free Center - A faction that splintered from Herut (qv) in 1967. From 1967 to 1973, the Free Center was a party in its own right. It became a faction in Likud (qv) from 1973 to 1977 and joined the Democratic Movement for Change in 1977. Its principal leader was Shmuel Tamir.

Gahal (Acronym for Gush Herut-Liberalim, Freedom-Liberal Bloc; also known as Herut-Liberal Bloc) - A political coalition list created in 1965 by an electoral combination of the Liberal Party (qv) and Herut (qv) to compete against the 1965 and 1969 Mapai (qv)-led electoral alignments. In 1967 on the eve of the outbreak of the Arab-Israeli War, Gahal joined a National Unity Government; in 1973 Gahal became part of the Likud Bloc (qv).

Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful) - A militant right-wing extremist religio-nationalist settlement movement that seeks to impose Israeli sovereignty on the West Bank.

HaPoel HaMizrahi (Spiritual Center Worker) - Orthodox religious workers' movement founded in Palestine in 1922 by a left-wing faction of Mizrahi (qv). In 1956 it joined Mizrahi to form the National Religious Party (qv).

HaPoel HaTzair (The Young Worker) - A Labor Zionist political party founded and active in Palestine from 1905 to 1930.

Herut (Abbreviation for Tnuat HaHerut, or Freedom Movement) - Right-wing political party founded by remnants of the Irgun (see Glossary), following its disbandment in 1948. It was led by former Irgun commander Menachem Begin and is the direct ideological descendant of Revisionist Zionism (qv). In the 1980s, Herut was the dominant component in the Likud Bloc (qv).

Laam (For the Nation) - A party established in 1968 by remnants of Rafi (qv), which allied itself with Gahal. In 1973 it combined with the State List and followers of the Movement for Greater Israel to become a faction in Likud (qv).

Labor Party - The Labor Party, founded in 1968, resulted from the merger of Mapai (qv), Ahdut HaAvoda (qv), and Rafi (qv). Representation in top Labor Party institutions was based on a proportion of 57.3 percent for Mapai and 21.3 percent for each of the other two. This factional system broke down following the ascension to power in June 1974 of the younger generation triumvirate of Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Yigal Allon, who were less tied to the former factions. Following the 1984 Knesset elections, the Labor Party assumed an independent existence upon the dissolution of the Maarakh (qv) when it went into the National Unity Government with Likud.

Labor Zionism - Zionist movements and parties committed to the development of a democratic-socialist political economy in Israel.

Liberal Party - The second major component in the Likud Bloc; a middle-class party formed in 1961 from the merger of the Progressives and General Zionists.

Likud or Likud Bloc (Union) - The Likud Bloc was founded in preparation for the 1973 elections when the Free Center (qv) and Laam (qv) joined Gahal (qv). In 1984 Likud formed the National Unity Government with the Labor Party (qv).

Maarakh (Alignment) - An electoral and parliamentary alignment on the national and municipal levels between the Labor Party and Mapam, from 1969 to 1984.

Maki (Acronym for Miflaga Kommunistit Yisraelit, or Communist Party of Israel) - The party was founded in 1949. In 1965 it broke into two factions: Maki and Rakah (qv). Maki continued to have as members primarily Jewish communists. The electoral list of Maki and Rakah, which joined in the 1973 elections, was called Moked (Focus). In 1977 Maki joined with several other groups to create Shelli (acronym for Peace for Israel and Equality for Israel), a party which disbanded before the 1984 elections.

Mapai (acronym for Mifleget Poalei Eretz Israel-Israel Workers' Party) - Mapai resulted from the 1930 merger between the main prestate Labor Zionist parties, Ahdut HaAvoda (qv) and HaPoel HaTzair (qv). In 1920 the two parties together had founded the Histadrut. In 1944 a small left-wing kibbutz-based faction seceded from Mapai and reconstituted itself as Ahdut HaAvoda-Poalei Tziyyon (Unity of Labor-Workers of Zion). Nevertheless, Mapai became the dominant party in the Yishuv and later in Israel; after 1968 it was the dominant faction in the Labor Party.

Mapam (Acronym for Mifleget Poalim Meuchedet-United Workers' Party) - Mapam resulted in January 1948 from the merger of two Labor Zionist kibbutz-based parties, HaShomer HaTzair (The Young Watchman, which had been founded in 1913 as a youth movement and became a political party in 1946) and Ahdut HaAvoda-Poalei Tziyyon. The party also contained remnants of the former Poalei Tziyyon (qv). Mapam split in 1954, with former members of HaShomer HaTzair remaining, while former members of Ahdut HaAvoda- Poalei Tziyyon left to form Ahdut HaAvoda (qv). The formation of the Labor Party in 1968 caused Mapam to reverse its previous opposition to unity among Labor Zionist parties and to join an electoral alliance (Maarakh -- Alignment) with the Labor Party in 1969. There was much criticism within Mapam that, as the junior partner of the Alignment, the party seemed excessively subservient to Labor's status-quo oriented policies, particularly on the issue of the future of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Mapam broke away from the Alignment and resumed its independent existence in the fall of 1984, when the Labor Party decided to join Likud (qv) in forming the National Unity Government.

Mizrahi (Spiritual Center) - Established in 1902 as an Orthodox religious Zionist party. In 1949 Mizrahi became part of the United Religious Front. In 1956 it joined HaPoel HaMizrahi (qv) to form the National Religious Party (qv).

Moledet (Homeland) - An extremist right-wing ultranationalist party founded in 1988 by a retired Israel Defense Forces (IDF) general, Rehavam (Gandhi) Zeevi.

Morasha (Heritage) - A religio-nationalist party led by Rabbi Chaim Druckman that broke away from the National Religious Party (qv) in 1984. In 1986 it was reincorporated into the National Religious Party.

National Religious Party (NRP) (also known as Mafdal -- acronym for HaMiflagah HaDatit-Leumit) - The NRP was formed in 1956 with the merger of two Orthodox parties: HaPoel HaMizrahi (qv) and Mizrahi (qv). From the founding of the state in 1948 to 1977, the NRP (or its predecessors) was the ally of the Labor Party (or its predecessors) in forming Labor-led coalition governments; in return the NRP was awarded control of the Ministry of Religious Affairs. In 1981 the NRP's electoral support declined from its traditional twelve seats to six as a result of the formation of Tami (qv) and Tehiya (qv). In 1984 the NRP suffered a further decline of two seats with the formation of Morasha (qv) by a former NRP faction.

Peace Now - A movement established after the October 1973 War, advocating territorial compromise over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in order to achieve peaceful relations with the Palestinian Arabs and the Arab states.

Poalei Tziyyon (Workers of Zion) - A Marxist Labor Zionist party founded in Palestine in 1906; in 1919 it was incorporated into the original Ahdut HaAvoda.

Progressive National Movement (also known as Progressive List for Peace) - The joint Arab-Jewish party was established in 1984 and advocated the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Rafi (Israel Labor List) - The party was created in 1965 when David Ben-Gurion and some of his supporters broke away from Mapai. In 1968 most of the party's activists (except for Ben-Gurion) returned, and together with Mapai and Ahdut HaAvoda, formed the Labor Party.

Rakah (New Communist List) - The communist party created by a faction that broke off in 1965 from Maki (qv) (Communist Party of Israel). In the 1973 elections Rakah and Maki created a joint electoral list called Moked (Focus). Rakah consisted primarily of Arab communists and participated in the 1988 elections.

Revisionist Zionism - A right-wing Zionist party and movement founded in 1925 by Vladimir Jabotinsky; it demanded a revision of the conciliatory policy by the Zionist Executive toward the British mandatory government.

Shas (Sephardic Torah Guardians) - A clericalist and theocratic party formed in 1984 by former Agudat Israel (qv) members to represent the interests of the ultra-Orthodox Sephardim.

Shelli (Acronym for Peace for Israel and Equality for Israel) - A party created in 1977 by Maki (qv) and several other groups. It disbanded before the 1984 elections.

Shinui (Change) - Founded by Amnon Rubenstein in 1973 as a protest movement against the October 1973 War. In 1976, in preparation for the May 1977 elections, Shinui joined with other groups to create the Democratic Movement for Change (DMC), led by Yigal Yadin. In 1979 Shinui broke away from the DMC and created its own political party. In the 1988 elections its Knesset representation declined from three to two seats.

Tami (Traditional Movement of Israel) - Established in 1981 by an Oriental faction within the National Religious Party (qv) led by former Minister of Religious Affairs Aharon Abuhatzeira to represent the interests of Sephardim. In 1988 Tami became a faction in the Likud Bloc (qv).

Tehiya (Renaissance) - A right-wing religio-nationalist group that broke away from the National Religious Party (qv) in 1981. The party advocates the eventual imposition of Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, accompanied by the transfer to the Arab countries of its Palestinian Arab inhabitants.

Torah Religious Front - Formed by Agudat Israel (qv) and Poalei Agudat Israel (Workers' Society of Israel) to campaign in the 1955 and 1959 elections. The front excluded the two Mizrahi religious parties, claiming they were insufficiently committed to the concept of a Torah state. The Torah Religious Front was dissolved prior to the 1961 elections.

United Religious Front - Electoral alliance created in 1949 composed of the four religious parties: Mizrahi (qv), HaPoel HaMizrahi (qv), Poalei Agudat Israel (Workers' Society of Israel), and Agudat Israel (qv). As of 1951 the four parties campaigned separately.

Yahad (Together) - An electoral list formed by Ezer Weizman in 1981; in 1984 it joined the Labor Party as a faction.




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 Factba.se.

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