Mapai

(The Workers Party of the Land of Israel) 

 

Mapai

Founded in 1930

Mapai (Mifleget Poalei Eretz Yisrael—The Workers Party of the Land of Israel) was established in 1930 as a result of the union of two parties: Ahdut HaAvoda party and HaPoel HaTzair. Throughout its existence, Mapai was the largest, strongest and most dominant party on the political scene. During the British Mandate, it controlled the national institutions, the Zionist Congresses, and the Histadrut labor federation. After the establishment of the State of Israel, Mapai assumed a central position  in the Knesset, in the government, in most of the local authorities, and in many other institutions, authorities, and organizations. Four Prime Ministers—David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Sharett, Levi Eshkol, and Golda Meir—were from Mapai. As a typical mass party, Mapai was very involved in the lives of citizens, inter alia providing social services such as a health fund, sports club, and youth movement.

Mapai's support bases included the Histadrut, the cooperative settlement movement (moshavim), and the collective settlement movement (kibbutzim), although in the decades following the establishment of the State, the agricultural forces lost some of their clout to urban forces. Although Mapai's socialism was always pragmatic, the younger generation in Mapai demanded even greater pragmatism, as opposed to the veterans, whose socialist ideological positions were stronger. Mapai’s security policy was also pragmatic compared to that of its sister parties in Europe, due to Israel's unique security problems. This position made it easier for Mapai to form coalitions with  parties to its right. On matters of religion and state, the party supported maintaining the status quo (which Ben-Gurion had initiated), which meant integrating the religious and ultra-Orthodox sectors into Israeli society while opposing the possibility of having the state governed by Jewish law (Halacha).

In 1965, Mapai and Ahdut HaAvoda founded the first Labor Alignment (Ma'arach) list. In 1968, after Mapai created the Labor Party together with Ahdut HaAvoda and Rafi, it ceased to exist as a separate party.

 

table
Election Year Votes Count Seats Count Votes Percent List Of Candidates Platform
1961 5 42 34.7 Candidates Candidates
1959 4 47 38.2 Candidates Candidates
1955 3 40 32.2 Candidates Candidates
1949 1 46 35.7 Candidates Candidates

Note that the lists of candidates in this table are in Hebrew.

David Ben-Gurion, Berel Katzenelson, Levi Eshkol, Zalman Shazar, Golda Meir, Pinchas Lavonon, Moshe Sharett

Mapai was the ruling party from the First Knesset until its integration into the Labor Alignment (Ma'arach) in 1965. It formed the first through 12th governments of Israel during the terms of the First through the Sixth Knessets. During that time, as the ruling party, Mapai held the most important portfolios, including Defense, Finance, the Foreign Ministry and the Education Ministry.