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Likud ( HaLikud, lit. The Consolidation) is the major center-right political party in Israelmarker. It was founded in 1973 by Menachem Begin in an alliance with several right-wing and liberal parties. Likud's victory in the 1977 elections was a major turning point in the country's political history, marking the first time the left had lost power. However, after ruling the country for most of the 1980s, the party has won only one Knesset election since 1992, in 2003. However, Likud's candidate Benjamin Netanyahu did win the vote for Prime Minister in 1996 and was given the task to form a government after the 2009 elections. After a convincing win in the 2003 elections, Likud saw a major split in 2005, when Likud leader Ariel Sharon left the party to form the new Kadima party. This resulted in Likud slumping to fourth place in 2006 elections. Following the 2009 elections, the party appears to have mostly recovered from its loss, and now leads the Israeli government under Prime Minister Netanyahu.

A member of the party is often called a Likudnik ( ).

Ideological positions


The Likud supports free market capitalism and liberalism, though in practice it has mostly adopted mixed economic policies. Under the guidance of Finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Likud pushed through legislation reducing value added tax (VAT), income and corporate taxes significantly, as well as customs duty. Likewise, it has instituted free trade (especially with the European Union and the United Statesmarker) and dismantled certain monopolies (Bezeq and the sea ports). Additionally, it has privatized numerous government-owned companies, e.g. El Al and Bank Leumi. Netanyahu was the most ardent free-market Israeli finance minister to-date. He argued that Israel's largest labor union, the Histadrut, has so much power as to be capable of paralyzing the Israeli economy, and claimed that the main causes of unemployment are laziness and excessive benefits to the unemployed." Under Netanyahu, Likud has and is likely to maintain a comparatively right-wing conservative economic stance, although it might be considered centrist or even progressive from a world view.

Palestinian policy

Likud has in the past espoused hawkish policies towards the Palestinians, including opposition to Palestinian statehood and support of Israeli settlements in the West Bankmarker and Gaza Stripmarker. However, it has also been the party which carried out the first peace agreements with Arab states. For instance, in 1979, Likud Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, signed the Camp David Accords with Egyptianmarker President Anwar al-Sadat, which returned the Sinai Peninsulamarker (occupied by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967) to Egypt in return for peace between the two countries. Yitzhak Shamir was the first Israeli Prime Minister to meet Palestinian leaders at the Madrid Conference following the Persian Gulf War in 1991. However, Shamir refused to concede the idea of a Palestinian state, and as a result was blamed by some (including United States Secretary of State James Baker) for the failure of the summit. Later, as Prime Minister, Netanyahu restated Likud's position of opposing Palestinian statehood, which after the Oslo Accords was largely accepted by the opposition Labor Party, even though the shape of any such state was not clear.

In 2002, during the Second Intifada, Israel's Likud-led government reoccupied Palestinian towns and refugee camps in the West Bank. In 2005 Ariel Sharon defied the recent tendencies of Likud and abandoned the "Greater Israel" policy of seeking to settle in the West Bank and Gaza. Though re-elected Prime Minister on a platform of no unilateral withdrawals, Sharon carried out the Israeli unilateral disengagement plan, withdrawing from the Gaza Stripmarker and demolishing the Israeli settlements there, as well as four settlements in the northern West Bank. Though losing a referendum among Likud registered voters, Sharon achieved government approval of this policy by firing most of the cabinet members who opposed the plan before the vote.

Sharon and the faction who supported his disengagement proposals left the Likud party after the disengagement and created the new Kadima party. This new party supported unilateral disengagement from most of the West Bank and the fixing of borders by the Israeli West Bank barrier. The basic premise of the policy was that the Israelis have no viable negotiating partner on the Palestinian side, and since they cannot remain in indefinite occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel should unilaterally withdraw.

Netanyahu, who was elected as the new leader of Likud after Kadima's creation, and Silvan Shalom, the runner-up, both supported the disengagement plan, however Netanyahu resigned his ministerial post before the plan was executed. Most current Likud members support the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and oppose Palestinian statehood and the disengagement from Gaza.

Likud charter

  • The 1999 Likud charter emphasized the right of settlement in "Judeamarker (and) Samariamarker" (more commonly known as the "West Bankmarker" and Gazamarker)," and as such, brings it into direct conflict with Palestinian claims on the same territory. Similarly, their claims of the Jordan rivermarker as the permanent eastern border to Israel and Jerusalemmarker as "the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel," do the same.

  • The 'Peace & Security' chapter of the 1999 Likud Party platform “flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.” The chapter continued: “The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state.”

With Likud back in power, starting in 2009, Israeli foreign policy is still under review. Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, in his "National Security" platform, neither endorsed nor ruled out the idea of a Palestinian state. "Netanyahu has hinted that he does not oppose the creation of a Palestinian state, but aides say he must move cautiously because his religious-nationalist coalition partners refuse to give away land."

Anti-Arab statements by Likud members

  • In February 2004 Likud member and deputy defense minister Ze'ev Boim, speaking at a memorial ceremony, said "What is it about Islam as a whole and the Palestinians in particular? Is it some form of cultural deprivation? Is it some genetic defect? There is something that defies explanation in this continued murderousness." In a comment, Likud member of Knessetmarker Yehiel Hazan supported Boim's statements: "I think this it is in their blood. It is something genetic. I have not researched this, but there is no other way to explain this,". He added "Don't believe an Arab, even one who has been in the grave for 40 years."

  • In remarks at the Knesset in December 2004, Likud member Yehiel Hazan repeatedly likened Palestinians to "worms" and stated that the Palestinians are a nation of "murderers" and "terrorists."

  • In a New Yorker magazine interview Moshe Feiglin, leader of the right wing Manhigut Yehudit faction of the Likud Central Committee, is quoted saying “You can’t teach a monkey to speak and you can’t teach an Arab to be democratic. You’re dealing with a culture of thieves and robbers. Muhammad, their prophet, was a robber and a killer and a liar. The Arab destroys everything he touches.”


Likud promotes a revival of Jewish culture, in keeping with the principles of Revisionist Zionism.

Likud emphasizes such Israeli nationalist themes as the use of the Israeli flag and the victory in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Likud publicly endorses press freedom and promotion of private sector media, which has grown markedly under governments Likud has led. A Likud government headed by Ariel Sharon, however, closed the popular right-wing pirate radio station Arutz 7 ("Channel 7). Arutz 7 was popular with the Jewish settler movement and often criticised the government from a right-wing perspective. However, the Likud is inclined towards the Torah and expresses support for it within the context of civil Judaism, as a result of its Irgun past, which aligned itself according to the word of the Tanakh.


Likud has its roots in Irgun, a militant group operating in British Mandate Palestine. The military wing of Irgun was co-oped into the Israeli Defence Forces at Israels foundation, while the political wing became Herut and eventually Likud. Over the years it has undergone an evolution into a more pragmatic party. Likud leader Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced his party is committed to a "full peace" with the Palestinians, though he is still under international pressure to explicitly endorse a Palestinian state. If he does, the he would join the ranks of hard-line Israeli leaders such as Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon, who changed their minds about giving up land and ended up making far-reaching concessions.


Current MKs

Likud currently has 27 Knesset members. They are listed below in the order that they appeared on the party's list for the 2009 elections.

Other prominent members


Past figures (deceased, retired or left Likud):

See also


  1. Israel - The Likud Bloc Library of Congress Country Studies
  2. Tzipi Livni's snap election gambit
  3. Likud Ynetnews
  4. Milon Morfix: Likudnik
  5. Benjamin Netanyahu - National Security
  6. Boim: Is Palestinian terror caused by a genetic defect? (Haaretz)
  7. ADL Dismayed At Offensive Remarks Made By Member of Israeli Knesset (Anti-Defamation League press release)
  8. Among the Settlers (The New Yorker)
  9. Netanyahu: Israel seeks peace with Arabs Associated Press April 1, 2009

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