Yisrael Ba-Aliya


Yisrael Ba-Aliya

Founded in 1996


Founded in 1996, the Yisrael B'Aliya party was an initiative of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Its leader, Natan Sharansky, was a former "Refusenik" or "Prisoner of Zion"—a term used to refer to individuals whom the Soviet regime had barred from emigration to Israel, and imprisoned. As a sectorial party, Yisrael B'Aliya was intended, first and foremost, to promote the interests of  immigrants from the FSU and to help them integrate into Israeli society. The party emerged in response to the new immigrants' frustration with the pace of their absorption in Israel and their discontent with the stigmatizing treatment they had received. With respect to security issues, the party held positions to the right of center, emphasizing the alleged failure of the Oslo process and the need to rehabilitate Israel’s deterrence capabilities.


The party did not offer overt support to either Shimon Peres or Binyamin Netanyahu in the elections for Prime Minister; however, the close and friendly relations between Sharansky and Netanyahu hinted at the party's alignment. Immediately after its establishment,  Yisrael B'Aliya enjoyed success in the 1996 elections and joined the Netanyahu government. Prior to the 1999 elections for the 15th Knesset, two of its  Knesset members left the party and joined Yisrael Beitenu, which was competing with Yisrael B'Aliya for the votes of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. The movement towards a split within the party continued even after the elections, with the resignation of two more members of Knesset. In the 2003 elections for the 16th Knesset, the party received only two seats. Shortly thereafter, it joined the Likud and ceased to exist.

Election Year Votes Count Number Of Seats Share Of Votes List Of Candidates Platform
2003 67,719 2 2.2 Candidates Candidates
1999 171,705 6 5.2 Candidates Candidates
1996 174,994 7 5.7 Candidates Candidates

Note that the candidates in this table are in Hebrew

Natan Sharansky, Yoel (Yuli) Edelstein


Representatives of the party received two seats in Netanyahu’s first government, with Natan Sharansky serving as Minister of Industry and Commerce and Yoel (Yuli) Edelstein serving as Minister of Immigration Absorption. The party was also part of Ehud Barak’s government, with Sharansky serving as Minister of the Interior until he resigned due to his opposition to the Camp David Summit of 2000. Sharansky returned to the government as Minister of Construction and Housing in the wake of Ariel Sharon’s victory in the special elections for Prime Minister in 2001. After the 2003 Knesset elections, Sharansky was appointed Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, a position he held until his resignation in 2005.