The Liberal Party
Founded in 1961
The Liberal Party was established in 1961, prior to the elections to the fifth Knesset, in the wake of the merger between the General Zionists and the Progressive Party. The party espoused a classic liberal ideology in its socio-economic positions: it championed free trade and limited government involvement in the economy, fought against the powerful General Workers Union (HaHistadrut HaKlalit), and called for instituting government health insurance. The Liberal Party also took a liberal stand on questions of religion and state, calling for such measures as the establishment of a constitution. In terms of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Liberal Party was much more dovish than Herut.
The founders of the Liberal Party intended it to be a leading force on the right of the political spectrum, and to offer an alternative to the rule of Mapai. However, these hopes were shattered after the 1961 elections, in which the party received only 17 seats - the same as Herut, its main competitor within the right-wing camp. This disappointment led the Liberal Party to join forces with Herut and to establish Gachal (The Herut-Liberals Bloc) in the run-up to the 1965 elections. Upset by the collaboration with Menachem Begin, who headed Herut, several Liberals resigning from the party in response to the merger and established the Independent Liberals.
The Liberal Party ran as part of the Gachal list in 1965 and in 1969. Beginning with the 1973 elections, it ran as part of the Likud list. Even so, it always preserved its status as an autonomous party within these lists. Over the years, the political positions of the Liberal Party became more right-wing and it became increasingly difficult to distinguish its views from those of Herut, its senior partner in the Likud list. In 1988, in the run-up to the elections for the Twelfth Knesset, the party dissolved and was absorbed into the Likud.