Agudat Yisrael

Agudat Yisrael

Founded in 1912

Agudat Yisrael was founded in Poland in 1912 and was intended to serve as a political tool that would assist in preserving the ultra-Orthodox lifestyle and in insulating that lifestyle from modernity and Zionism. After World War II, the party's center of operations moved to Israel, where Agudat Yisrael even cooperated with state institutions to some extent. Members of Agudat Yisrael served in different bodies of the pre-state political establishment (e.g., the People's Council and the State Council of the Provisional Government of Israel), and a minister from its ranks served in the first governments of Israel until 1952.

The party represents the interests and worldview of the ultra-Orthodox population. Among other causes, it has fought against military service for women, arranged the exemption of yeshiva students from military service on the grounds of "Torah is his livelihood," and established the ultra-Orthodox educational stream. The party continually takes steps to preserve the Jewish character of the State. In the first elections of the State of Israel, Agudat Yisrael ran as part of the United Religious Front. In the elections for the Third Knesset (1955), the Fourth Knesset (1959) and the Eighth Knesset (1973), it ran as part of the Religious Torah Front. Since 1992, it has run with Degel HaTorah on the United Torah Judaism (Yahadut HaTorah) ticket.

Election Year Votes Count Number Of Seats Share Of Votes List Of Candidates Platform
1988 102,714 5 4.5 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
1984 36,079 2 1.7 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
1981 72,312 4 3.7 Candidates Candidates
1977 58,652 4 3.4 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
1969 44,002 4 3.2 Candidates Candidates
1965 39,795 4 3.3 Candidates Candidates
1961 37,178 4 3.7 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
1951 13,799 3 2.0 Candidates Candidates

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

Yitzhak-Meir Levin, Avraham Shapira, Meir Porush, Yaakov Litzman

In the first years of the State, Agudat Yisrael was a partner in government coalitions, in which its representative was Rabbi Yitzhak-Meir Levin, who served as Minister of Welfare. In 1952, Agudat Yisrael left the government in the wake of a dispute over drafting women to the military. Since then and until 2015, no member of the party has held the position of minister; however, in the years since 1977, the party joined several coalition governments, and a number of its members served as deputy ministers in several governments. Following a ruling by the High Court of Justice, annuling the arrangement of Deputy Minister holding powers of a full Minister, The party's deputy minister - Yaakov Litzman - was appointed as the Minister of Health in September 2015. This was the first time a representative of Agudat Israel took the position of a minister since the early 1950s. However, in November 2017 Litzman resigned and was reappointed as a Deputy Minister.