Thursday, January 17, 2013


Guide to the Parties

Likud Beiteinu: Likud is the major conservative political party in Israel. Likud currently leads the Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In 2012, Likud joined with Yisrael Beiteinu to form a united bloc for the 2013 elections, with Netanyahu number one on their list. It supports increased settlement in Jerusalem and the West Bank, although it is not opposed to negotiations with the Palestinians and has not ruled out the possibility of a Palestinian state. It generally supports a free market agenda to the economy. It supports the status quo when it comes to religion and the state.

Labour: The Israeli Labor Party is a social-democratic and labor Zionist political party with Shelly Yachimovich number 1 on their list. Under Yachimovch it has concentrated on socio-economic issues, calling on the cost of living to be reduced. It supports the two state solution and is against the building of new settlements. It is committed to supporting religious pluralism and opposes legislation that reduces the power of non-Orthodox Jewish groups.

The Jewish Home: The Jewish Home is a new right wing national religious Zionist political party, founded in 2008 with Naftali Bennett number one on their list. The party is founded on the values of modern Orthodoxy and religious Zionism. The Jewish Home calls on the cost of living to be decreased through decreasing the power of trade unions and state monopolies. It opposes the formation of a Palestinian State, instead calling for Israel to officially annex the Israeli controlled Areas of the West Bank

Shas: Shas, an acronym for Shomrei Sfarad, or Sfarad’s gurads of the Torah, is an ultra-orthodox religious political party in Israel with Eli Yishai number one on their list. It primarily represents the interests of religiously observant Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews. They call for Israel to be run by Halakah (Jewish Law). In the past, it has shown a moderate approach to the peace process, though recently they have been more hardline, for instance being against the freezing of settlement building. It calls for a compensation package for those Jews who were forced out of Arab Lands, due to the creaton of Israel.

Meretz: Meretz is a left-wing Zionist, social democratic political party in Israel with Zahava Galon number one on their list. The party emphasizes peace with the Palestinians, human rights for ethnic and sexual minorities, religious freedom, and environmentalism. It sees itself as the representative of the Israeli peace movement in the Knesset and in this role calls for the dismantling of most settlements in the West Bank. It also speaks out strongly against the demonisation of foreign workers. It calls for the separation of religion and state.

United Torah Judaism:  Formed from an alliance of Degel Ha Torah and Agudat Israel, it has been in existence since 1992 with Yaakov Litzman number one on their list.  It represents the interests of the Ultra Orthodox in Israel and calls for more inclusion of Jewish law within the state. It is opposed to civil marriage. It has no opinion when it comes to increasing settlements in the West Bank, as it sees the religious and social issues as more important.

Hatnua: This is a party created by Tsipi Livnin in November 2012, from dissidents of Labour and Kadima with Tzipi Livni as number one on their list. It is centrist in outlook. Hatnua is committed to the two state solution and calls for peace negotiations with the Palestinians to continue. It calls for a law to protect the environment. It calls for action to be taken to reduce social inequality in Israel through increasing the minimum wage and initiating a new public housing programme, paid for by canceling subsidies to the West Bank and the Ultra-Orthodox. It supports religious pluralism and says for this to happen the Orthodox Hegemony of society has to stop.

Otzma LeYisrael: Far Right Nationalist and religious party with Ariel Eldad number one on their list. It opposes the formation of a Palestinian State and any territorial concessions to the Palestinians or any talks with the Palestinians and calls for the nullification of the Oslo accords and the dismantling of the PLO’s police force, which they see as a terrorist faction. It also calls for Jewish sovereignty over Temple Mount and to make Hebrew the sole language of Israel, not having Arabic as a national language as well. It has a tough line when it comes to illegal immigrants and foreign workers, saying they should be removed. It calls for the power of monopolies to be reduced in Israel, to reduce the cost of living.

Yesh Atid: Yesh Atid is a political party founded by Yair Lapid in 2012 with Yair Lapid number one on their list. Lapid wanted to ensure all Israelis, in particular the ultra orthodox would be conscripted into the army. It calls for more focus on education, healthcare, transport and policing, as well as improving the standard of living of the middle class. It also wants to tackle political corruption, which they see as a major problem in Israel. It is supportive of a free market economic system and calls for more to be done to reduce regulatory costs and help for small businesses. It supports the two state solution, but calls for the major settlement blocks to remain in Israel.

Hadash: Hadash is a Jewish and Arab socialist front of organizations defined as Non-Zionist and Marxist that runs for the Israeli partliament with Mohammad Barakeh number one on their list. The party supports evacuation of all Israeli settlements, a complete withdrawal by Israel from all territories occupied as a result of the Six Day war, and the establishment of a Palestinian state in those territories. It also supports the right of return or compensation for Palestinian refugees. In addition to issues of peace and security, Hadash is also known for being active on social and environmental issues.

Ra’am-Tal:  Generally represented and supported by Israeli Arabs, enjoying particular popularity among the Bedouin population..  In 2006, Ra'am joined with another Arab party, Ta'al, and bolstered its support base.  It supports Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders and the creation of a Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.  It also advocates dismantling all Israeli settlements, including those in the Golan Heights, Right of return” to Israel for Palestinian refugees and their descendants and separation of religion and state.  They believe that Arabs should not be recruited to serve in the IDF. 

Balad: An Israeli-Arab political party with Jamal Zalhalka number one on their list. It wants to change Israel into a democratic state of all its citizens and is thus opposed to the concept of a Jewish state. It calls for the state to recognise what they call ‘Palestinian Arabs’ as a national minority entitled to all the rights that come with this. It opposes the state budget, which it believes discriminates against Arab citizens. It supports the two state solution and the implementation of UN resolution 194 in regards of Palestinian refugees.

Kadima: Kadima is a centrist and liberal political party in Israel with Shaul Mofaz number one on their list. It calls for the power of the Ultra Orthodox to be reduced and supports a free market economy with adequate safety nets for the poorest. It supports the two state solution and negotiations with the Palestinians.

Am Shalem: This party was established in April 2011 by Knesset member Haim Amsalem who was expelled from Shas five months before with Haim Amsalem number one on their list. It calls for the bridge between secular and religious communities in Israel to be bridged, which it sees as one of the biggest social divides in Israeli society. It calls for more to be done to get Haredis into the workforce and the army. It is also committed to helping the poorest in society, who they feel have been left behind.