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Likud

Founded in
1973

The Likud was founded in 1973, in the run-up to the elections for the Eighth Knesset. The Likud began as a joint list comprised of Herut, the Liberal party, the Free Center, the State List, and the Labor Movement for a Greater Israel. In 1988, the parties on this joint list merged to form one party, which was also called the Likud.

The Likud is a right-wing party that has run for government throughout its existence. Headed by Menachem Begin, the Likud first came to power in 1977, and remained in power until 1984. It was then a partner in the three unity governments that ruled until 1990. The Likud's Yitzchak Shamir served as prime minister from 1986 until 1992, when the Likud returned to the opposition after over 15 years in power. The Likud returned to head the government from 1996–1999, under the leadership of Binyamin Netanyahu, and then again from 2001–2006, under the leadership of Ariel Sharon. In late 2005, however, the party suffered an internal split, when Ariel Sharon and a large contingent of Knesset members left the Likud and formed Kadima. After three years in the opposition, the Likud returned to power on March 31, 2009, which marked the start of the second Netanyahu government.

The Likud has traditionally supported the idea of the whole Land of Israel, even if it has not always defined the state's borders precisely. Although it refused to recognize Palestinian demands for sovereignty for a long period of time, the Likud has since moderated its stand. The Likud  agreed to concessions in the Camp David Accords in 1979, began negotiations with the Palestinians during the Madrid Conference in 1991, continued the implementation of the Oslo accords, and unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip in 2005, when it evacuated the Jewish settlements in that area.
On socio-economic issues, the Likud has right-wing, conservative views and advocates a free market. Despite this, however, the Likud enjoys the support of economically disadvantaged populations. The Likud has taken steps to privatize the economy, while at the same time setting a minimum wage, passing the State Pension Law, etc. On issues of religion and state, the Likud has centrist views. Although it is a secular party, the religious parties consider it to be a more comfortable coalition partner than the Alignment or the Labor Party.

The Likud in the Knesset Elections

Note that the candidates and platforms in this table are in Hebrew.

Electoral Year Knesset Number Number of Seats Percentage of Votes Candidates Platforms
2009 18 27 21.6 Candidates Platform
2006 17 12 9.0 Candidates Platform
2003 16 38 29.4 Candidates Platform
1999 15 19 14.1 Candidates Platform
1996 14 32 * 25.1 Candidates Platform
1992 13 32 24.9 Candidates Platform
1988 12 40 31.1 Candidates Platform
1984 11 41 31.9 Candidates Platform
1981 10 48 37.1 Candidates Platform
1977 9 43 33.4 Candidates Platform
1973 8 39 30.2 Candidates Platform

* In 1996 Likud ran on a joint list with Gesher and Tzomet.

Prominent Personalities

Menachem Begin, Yitzchak Shamir, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ariel Sharon, David Levy, Moshe Arens, Yitzhak Moda'i, Moshe Nissim, Dan Meridor, Ehud Olmert, Moshe Katzav, Silvan Shalom.

Likud in the Government

Although several members of Herut and the Liberal Party members served as ministers in the governments of Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir in the late 1960's, it was only in 1977 that the Likud itself came to power. From 1977 to 1984, Likud members of Knesset served in high-ranking ministerial positions such as the Ministry of Defense (Ezer Weizmann, Ariel Sharon, and Moshe Arens), the Ministry of Finance (Simcha Erlich, Yigal Horowitz, and Yoram Aridor) and the Foreign Ministry (Yitzchak Shamir). Many members of the Likud also served as ministers in the rotation governments of the 11th Knesset and in the governments of the 12th Knesset.

The Likud once again led the government after the elections for the Fourteenth Knesset in 1996, when it ran in a joint list with the Gesher and Tzomet parties. In that government, in addition to the position of prime minister, the Likud controlled important ministries such as Finance (Dan Meridor) and Defense (Yitzchak Mordechai). The Likud once again became the party with the highest number of cabinet members in 2001 to 2005, when the governments of Ariel Sharon were in power.

In the government that was formed after the elections for the 18th Knesset in 2009, 15 ministers were members of the Likud. These included the Minister of Finance (Yuval Steinetz), the Minister of Education (Gideon Sa'ar), the Communications Minister (Moshe Kachalon), and the Minister of Transportation (Yisrael Katz).


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