Founded in 1948

Founded in 1948, the Herut (Freedom) Movement represented the ideological continuation of the Irgun Zva'i Le'umi (the Irgun, also known as IZL or Etzel), one of the pre-state underground forces. During the period of the British Mandate, the Irgun was the military arm of the Revisionist Movement. Herut rose as an independent movement, separate from the Revisionist camp, due to ideological fissures that had opened up among the Irgun's internal factions during the group's last days. However, in spite of Herut's disagreements with veteran Revisionists, the movement assumed the role of successor to Zionist Revisionism and adopted Ze’ev Jabotinsky as its spiritual father.

The Herut Movement, located on the right of the political map, espoused a hawkish line on  issues of foreign policy and security and opposed both the ceasefire of 1949 and the withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula in 1956. Its platform spoke of the sanctity of the historic boundaries of the Land of Israel and of the integrity of the homeland. Accordingly, Herut demanded that the state's political boundaries include the whole territory of the British Mandate of Palestine, on both banks of the Jordan River, and accused Mapai and the religious parties of “anti-nationalistic defeatism." With respect to foreign policy, Herut called for a pro-Western and anti-Soviet alignment and strongly opposed diplomatic relations with Germany, a stance that culminated in violent demonstrations in Jerusalem, against the background of the reparations agreements between Israel and Germany.

On socio-economic issues, Herut defined itself as a liberal party and called for promoting private enterprise and blocking any attempt to establish socialism. However, on many occasions it submitted radical demands regarding wages and labor relations. Hoping to attract both working class and middle-class voters, Herut integrated social principles, such as the freedom to organize and labor rights, with advocacy for the interests of employers, independent professionals, and tradesmen.

In the first two decades of Israel's existence, Herut was the pariah of the political system under Mapai rule, with Ben-Gurion removing it from the list of acceptable coalition partners (“without Herut and Maki”). Seeking to present a real challenge to the rule of Mapai, Herut joined the Liberal Party in 1965 and established a joint list called Gahal. Within Gahal, and later, within the Likud, Herut kept its autonomous status until the 1988 establishment of the Likud as one unified party. At that time, Herut party institutions were disbanded.  

Election Year Votes Count Number Of Seats Share Of Votes List Of Candidates Platform
1961 138,599 17 13.8 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
1959 130,515 17 13.5 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
1955 107,190 15 12.6 Candidates Candidates
1951 45,651 8 6.6 Candidates Candidates
1949 49,782 14 11.5 Candidates Candidates

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

Menachem Begin, Yohanan Bader, Shmuel Tamir.


See Gahal and the Likud.