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The General Zionists ( , Tzionim Klalim) were centrists within the Zionist movement and a political party in Israelmarker. Their political arm is an ancestor of the modern-day Likud and Kadima parties.


General Zionism was initially the term to refer to the beliefs of the majority of members of the Zionist Organization [ZO] who had not joined a specific faction or party and belonged to their countrywide Zionist organizations only.

In 1922, various non-aligned groups and individuals established the Organization of General Zionists as a non-ideological party within the Zionist Organization (later the World Zionist Organization) at a time when the Zionist movement was becoming polarized between Labour Zionists and Revisionist Zionism.

However, eventually the General Zionists became identified with European liberal and middle class beliefs in private property and capitalism. From 1931 to 1945 the General Zionist movement was divided into two factions due to differences over social issues, economics and labour issues (e.g. the Histadrut). In the years following the establishment of the state of Israelmarker in 1948, the General Zionists moved towards the right in opposition to the hegemony of Mapai and other Labour Zionist movements in Israeli politics.

In 1936 the General Zionists established a daily newspaper, HaBoker, which was edited for the first ten years of its existence by Peretz Bernstein. It ceased publication in 1965.

Political activity in Israel

The General Zionists entered the elections for the first Knesset in 1949. They won 5.2% of the vote and seven seats, but were not included in either of David Ben Gurion's coalition governments.

The 1951 elections were a huge success, with the party winning 20 seats, making it the second largest in the Knessetmarker. The party was enlarged soon after the elections when the Sephardim and Oriental Communities party and the Yemenite Association merged into it (though the one Yemenite Association MK left the party again before the end of the session). Although they were not included in the coalition for the third government, they were brought into the fourth government after Ben Gurion had removed the Ultra-orthodox parties, Agudat Israel and Agudat Israel Workers, over the dispute over religious education that had brought down the previous government. They were also included in Moshe Sharett's fifth government, but not the sixth.

In the 1955 elections the party slumped to 13 seats, and were not included in either of the third Knesset's coalition governments.

A further slump to eight seats in the 1959 elections and exclusion from the coalition made the party rethink their strategy. Eventually the party decided to merge with the 6-seat Progressive Party to form the Liberal Party. Nevertheless, the party helped bring down the government in 1961 when it and Herut tabled a motion of no confidence in the government over the Lavon Affair.

In the 1961 elections the new Israel Liberal Party won 17 seats, making it the third largest in the Knesset. During the session, ten MKs (mostly former General Zionists) merged with the right-wing Herut to form Gahal whilst the other seven (most from the Progressive Party) set up the Independent Liberals. Gahal later became Likud.


  1. General Zionism Jewish Virtual Library

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