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יו״ר מפלגות פוליטיות בכנסת ישראל לדורותיה - Chairpersons of Political Parties in Israeli Knessets

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'==== Israel is a parliamentary democracy, based on a number of Basic Laws. It has no formal constitution. Religious political parties have in the past blocked all efforts to create a constitution. They hold the opinion that the Jewish state’s constitution must be based upon the Torah (the Five Books of Moses) and the Jewish law (halakhah) that arises from it.

The Basic Laws lay down the framework and powers of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, and concern special areas of Israel’s polity such as the economy, civil-military relations and the status of Jerusalem.

One of the most characteristic laws is the Law of Return, which was adopted in 1950. This law grants every Jew who can prove to have at least one Jewish grandparent the right to acquire Israeli citizenship (Israeli nationality does not exist). The legislative competence rests with the Knesset. The Supreme Court has the authority to determine whether a law is in accordance with the Basic Laws.

The Legislative


The Knesset (Israel's unicameral parliament) is the country's legislative body. The Knesset took its name and fixed its membership at 120 from the Knesset Hagedolah (Great Assembly), the representative Jewish council convened in Jerusalem by Ezra and Nehemiah in the 5th century BCE.

The Knesset has the exclusive right to enact laws and supervise the government’s work. It also has the power to lift members’ immunity and to remove the President of the State and the State Comptroller.

The Knesset has 120 seats and is elected in general elections once every four years. Until now, only twelve out of the twenty Knessets served its full four-year term. The parliaments which have been formed until this day, were made up of members belonging to between nine and fifteen different political groups.

Chairs of Political Parties in Knessets 1 - 35 (1949-2021):

Shown in 4 main groups (based on the election results of Knesset 1 in 1949):

  • 1. Left-wing & Center-left parties
  • 2. Center, Center-right and National parties
  • 3. Religious Parties
  • 4. Extreme left and Arab parties

(PM - Prime Minister; MK - member of Knesset)

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Group 1: Left-wing & Center-left parties

Political parties that split-off from Mapai and/or from its daughters parties:

  • The Third Way - הדרך השלישית: 1996-2011. The party was formed jn 1996 towards the end of the Knesset 13 when two MKs, Avigdor Kahalani and Emanuel Zisman, broke away from Labor over he idea of considering the withdrawing from the Golan Heights in return for peace with Syria. It was a Liberal Zionism political party. The party ceased to function in 1999 and finally dissolved in 2011.

  • One Israel ישראל אחת: 1999-2001 was formed by Labor leader Ehud Barak in the run-up to the 1999 elections with the aim of making Labor appear more centrist and to reduce its secularist and elitist reputation amongst Mizrahi voters. It was an alliance of the Labor Party, Meimad and Gesher.

Other short-lived political alliances based on/split-off Labor + extras, were:

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Group 2: Center, Center-right and National parties

  • Herut - חרות: 1948-1988. Herut was the major conservative nationalist political party in Israel from 1948 until its formal merger into Likud in 1988. It was an adherent of Revisionist Zionism. Merged into Gahal‎ in 1965 in Knesset 5, then affiliated with Likud in 1973 in Knesset 8.

  • Gahal - גח״ל: 1965-1973 was the main right-leaning political alliance in Israel, ranging from the centre-right to right-wing, from its founding in 1965 until the establishment of Likud in 1973. It was led by Menachem Begin. The party was formed by a merger of Herut and Israeli Liberal Party in 1965 in Knesset 5. Dissolved in 1973 and merged into Likud.

  • Development and Peace - פיתוח ושלום: 1970-1980. (Heb.: Pituah VeShalom) originally known as Flatto-Sharon was a right wing one-man political party in Israel in Knesset 9.
    • Shmuel Flatto-Sharon - שמואל פלאטו-שרון. Leader: 1970-1980; MK in Knessets: 9

  • Kach - כך: Founded 1971; Banned 1988. Kach was a radical Orthodox Jewish, ultranationalist political party in Israel. Founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1971, based on his Jewish-Orthodox-nationalist ideology (subsequently dubbed Kahanism), the party earned a single seat in the Knesset in the 1984 election, after several electoral failures. However, it was barred from participating in the next election in 1988 under the revised Knesset Elections Law banning parties that incited racism.

  • Shinui - שינוי‎: 1974-2006. Founded in 1974. In 1976 merged with Dash, and later merged into Meretz. Shinui was a Zionist, secular, and anti-clerical free market liberal party and political movement in Israel. The party twice became the third-largest in the Knesset, but both occasions were followed by a split and collapse. in 1977, the party won 15 seats as part of Dash, but the alliance split in 1978, and Shinui was reduced to 2 seats at the next elections. In 2003, the party won 15 seats alone, but lost them all three years later after most of its MKs left to form new parties.

  • Tehiya - התחיה: 1979-1992. Originally known as Banai (Hebrew: בנא"י‎, an acronym for Land of Israel Loyalists' Alliance (Hebrew: ברית נאמני ארץ ישראל‎)), then Tehiya-Bnai (Hebrew: תחייה-בנא"י‎), was an ultranationalist political party in Israel. In the eyes of many, Tehiya was identified with Geula Cohen, who founded the party and headed it throughout its existence. The party split from Herut and in 1992 merged into Likud.

  • Tzomet -- 1983-current -- צוֹמֶת. The party was founded by General Rafael Eitan in 1983, after his retirement from the position of chief-of-staff in 1982. He modeled it in his spirit as a secular, right-wing party with a strong agricultural side. It ran in a joint list with Tehiya in 1984 and parted from it in 1987. No presence in the Knesset since then. A short "fiasco" episode was in 2019 when Oren Hazan tried to take hold of the party, but failed in the 1999 elections.
    • Rafael (Raful) Eitan רפאל (רפול) איתן Leader: 1983-2003. MK in Knessets: 11-14.
    • [ Moshe Gerin - משה גרין] Leader: 2003-2019.
    • [ Oren Hazan - אורן חזן] Leader: 1919. MK in Knesset 20.
    • [ Moshe Gerin - משה גרין] Leader: 2019-current

  • Yiud - יעוד: 1994-1996. Yiud was a small, short-lived political faction in Israel in the mid-1990s. It was formed in 1994 during the 13th Knesset when three MKs, Alex Goldfarb, Esther Salmovitz and Gonen Segev broke away from Tzomet in Knesset 13, following a disagreement with the party's leader, Rafael Eitan. Then it disappeared.
    • [ Gonen Segev - גונן שגב] Leader: 1994-1996. MK in Knesset 13

  • Yisrael BaAliya - ישראל בעליה: 1996-2003. It was a political party in Israel between its formation in 1996 and its merger into Likud in 2003. It was formed to represent the interests of Russian immigrants by former refuseniks Natan Sharansky and Yuli-Yoel Edelstein. Initially a centrist party, it drifted to the right towards the end of its existence.

  • Gil - גיל: 1996-2009. The Pensioner's Party, was a centre political party in Israel and was part of the governing coalition in the Knesset 7. In the 2009 elections, Gil did not receive sufficient votes for representation in the Knesset. In preparation for the 2013 elections, the party was renamed Dor.

  • Center Party מִפְלֶגֶת הַמֶרְכָּז: 1999-2003, was a short-lived political party in Israel. Formed in 1999 by former Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai, the aim was to create a group of moderates to challenge Binyamin Netanyahu on the right and opposition leader Ehud Barak on the left. It split from Likud-Gesher-Tzomet and Labor, then dissolved.
    • [ Yitzhak Mordechai - יצחק מרדכי]. Leader: 1999-2003. MK in Knesset 14, 15.

  • Kadima - קדימה: 2005-2015, was a centrist and liberal political party in Israel. It was established by moderates from Likud largely following the implementation of Ariel Sharon 's unilateral disengagement plan in August 2005, and was soon joined by like-minded Labor politicians. With Ehud Olmert as party chairman following Sharon's stroke, it became the largest party in the Knesset after the 2006 elections, winning 29 of the 120 seats, and led a coalition government. In the 2009 elections under Tzipi Livni's leadership, it became an opposition party. In the 2013 elections, under Shaul Mofaz leadership, Kadima became the smallest party in the Knesset, winning only 2 seats and barely passing the electoral threshold. It did not enter the 2015 elections, and soon after - it disappeared.

  • Hatnua הַתְּנוּעָה: 2012-2019. (lit. The movement) was a liberal political party in Israel formed by former Israeli Foreign Minister and Vice Prime Minister Tzipi Livni to present an alternative to voters frustrated by the stalemate in the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. The party was formed by dissidents in Kadima. In the 2015 legislative election, it ran on a joint electoral list with the Labor Party called the Zionist Union, which became the second-largest parliamentary group. However, tension between the Union's competing factions resulted in its dissolution in early January 2019, ahead of that year's April election.

  • Yesh Atid - 2012-current - יֵשׁ עָתִיד‎ is a centrist political party in Israel. Founded by Yair Lapid, it seeks to represent what it considers the centre of Israeli society: the secular middle class. It focuses primarily on civic, socio-economic, and governance issues, including government reform and ending military draft exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox. In 2013, the first election it contested in, Yesh Atid placed second, winning 19 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. It then entered into a coalition Benjamin Netanyahu 's Likud. In the 2015 election it joined the opposition. in 2019 it entered the Blue & White alliance and in the 2021 the party ran alone and formed the anti-Bibi coalition and government, with Yair Lapid as PM in rotation following Naftali Bennet in 8/2023.

  • Gesher גשר: 2018-2021, was a liberal and centrist political party in Israel, established in December 2018 by former Yisrael Beitenu MK Orly Levy. The party focuses primarily on economic and cost-of-living issues. The name of the party is a reference to the party founded by Orly's father, David Levy. It split from Yisrael Beitenu alliance with Labor in 2019-2020 & also with Meretz in 2020. Then merged into Likud.

  • The New Right - 2018-current - הימין החדש, is a right-wing political party in Israel, established by Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett. It split from The Jewish Home The New Right aims to be a right-wing party open to both religious and secular people. The party did not win any seats in the April 2019 election, though it won three seats in the subsequent election of September 2019, and retained these in the March 2020 election. It is currently the sole member of the Yamina party alliance.

  • New Hope - 2020-current - תקווה חדשה‎, officially known as New Hope — Unity for Israel (Hebrew: תִּקְוָוה חֲדָשָׁה אַחְדוּת לְיִשְׂרָאֵל‎, is a national-liberal political party in Israel. The party was formed by former Likud MK and former minister Gideon Sa'ar.It split from Likud & Derech Eretz. The party gained 6 MKs in Knesset 24 and joined the non-Bibi coalition.
    • [ Gideon Sa'ar - גדעון סער] Leader: 2012-incumbent. MK in Knessets: 15-19, 21-24

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Group 3: Religious (mostly right wing) Parties

  • Tami - תמ״י: 1981-1984 (an acronym for Tnu'at Masoret Yisrael - תנועת מסורת ישראל‎), was a sectoral party that appealed to an Oriental-religious ethnic target audience, operated in the 1980s and at the center of its platform was the idea of ​​equal opportunities. Split from National Religious Party. Merged into Likud.
    • [ ‎Aharon Abuhatzira - אהרון אבו-חצירא]. Leader" 1981-1984. MK in Knessets: 8-12

  • Moria - מוריה: 1990-1992. It was a short-lived Haredi political party in Israel in the early 1990s. It split from Shas in 1990 and merged into United Torah Judaism.
    • [ Yitzhak Peretz - יצחק פרץ] . Leader 1990-1992. MK in Knessets: 11-13

  • Geulat Israel - גאולת ישראל: 1990-1993. It was a short-lived Haredi political party in Israel in the early 1990s. It split from Agudat Yisrael 1990 and disappeared in 1993..
    • [ Eliezer Mizrahi - אליעזר מזרחי] . Leader 1990-1993. MK in Knesset 12

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Group 4. Extreme left and Arab parties

Arab satellite lists Israeli Arab satellite parties formed for the purposes of electoral support of Mapai (and later the Labor Party) and Mapam between 1948 and the mid 1970s.

  • Maki מק״י: 1948-1973. (Israeli Communist Party) - (מפלגה קומוניסטית ישראלית), was a communist political party in Israel. It is not the same party as the modern-day Maki, which split from it during the 1960s and later assumed its name. Maki was a descendant of the Palestine Communist Party (PCP.; founded in 1922), which changed its name to MAKEI (the Communist Party of Eretz Yisrael) after endorsing partition in 1947, and then to Maki. The party was not Zionist, but recognized Israel, and asserted the right of Palestinians to form a state in accordance with the United Nations resolution on partition. It was quite successful for ca 15 years and then declined. Maki merged with the SIah_Blue-Red Movement in 1973, to form [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moked Moked, and subsequently disappeared as an independent party.

  • Rakah/Maki - 1965-current - רק״ח/מק״י. The Israeli Communist Party - הַמִפְלָגָה הַקוֹמוּנִיסְטִית הַיִשְׂרְאֵלִית‎ HaMiflega HaKomunistit HaYisra'elit, الحزب الشيوعي الاسرائيلي‎ Al-Ḥizb ash-Shuyū'ī al-'Isrā'īlī), commonly referred to by its Hebrew acronym Maki (מק"י‎), is a communist political party in Israel and forms part of the political alliance known as Hadash - חד״ש. It was originally known as Rakah (רק"ח‎), an acronym for Reshima Komunistit Hadasha (רשימה קומוניסטית חדשה‎, lit. New Communist List), and is not the same party as the original Maki, from which it broke away in the 1960s.
    • It is run by a collective leadership of the Central Committee: 1965-current.

The following Arab political parties ran in the Knesset elections first as individual parties. Since 1996 they formed alliances of Arab parties, such as the Joint List - القائمة المشتركة - הרשימה המשותפת, 2015-current: (Raam-Taal & Raam-Taal-Mada)

  • Balad - 1995-current - בָּלַ"ד - بلد .
    • [ Azmi Bishara - عزمي بشارة - עַזְמִי בִשַארָה] Leader: 1995-2007. MK in Knessets: 14-17
    • [ Jamal Zahalka - جمال زحالقة - ג'מאל זחאלקה] Leader: 2007-2019. MK in Knessets: 16-20
    • [ Mtanes Shehadeh - امطانس شحادة‎ - מְטַאנֵס שְׁחַאדֵה] Leader: 2019-2021. MK in Knessets: 14-17
    • [ Sami Abu Shehadeh - سامي ابو شحادة‎ - סָאמִי אַבּוּ שְׁחַאדַה] Leader: 2021-incumbent. MK in Knessets: 22-24

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=PROJECT IN PROGRESS.......=

Israel is a parliamentary democracy, based on a number of Basic Laws. It has no formal constitution. Religious political parties have in the past blocked all efforts to create a constitution. They hold the opinion that the Jewish state’s constitution must be based upon the Torah (the Five Books of Moses) and the Jewish law (halakhah) that arises from it.

The Basic Laws lay down the framework and powers of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, and concern special areas of Israel’s polity such as the economy, civil-military relations and the status of Jerusalem.

One of the most characteristic laws is the Law of Return, which was adopted in 1950. This law grants every Jew who can prove to have at least one Jewish grandparent the right to acquire Israeli citizenship (Israeli nationality does not exist). The legislative competence rests with the Knesset. The Supreme Court has the authority to determine whether a law is in accordance with the Basic Laws.

The Legislative


The Knesset (Israel's unicameral parliament) is the country's legislative body. The Knesset took its name and fixed its membership at 120 from the Knesset Hagedolah (Great Assembly), the representative Jewish council convened in Jerusalem by Ezra and Nehemiah in the 5th century BCE.

The Knesset has the exclusive right to enact laws and supervise the government’s work. It also has the power to lift members’ immunity and to remove the President of the State and the State Comptroller.

The Knesset has 120 seats and is elected in general elections once every four years. Until now, only twelve out of the twenty Knessets served its full four-year term. The parliaments which have been formed until this day, were made up of members belonging to between nine and fifteen different political groups.

Chairs of Political Parties in Knessets 1 - 35 (1949-2021):

Shown in 4 main groups (based on the election results of Knesset 1 in 1949):

  • 1. Left-wing & Center-left parties
  • 2. Center, Center-right and National parties
  • 3. Religious Parties
  • 4. Extreme left and Arab parties

(PM - Prime Minister; MK - member of Knesset)

----------------------------------------------------------

Group 1: Left-wing & Center-left parties

Political parties that split-off from Mapai and/or from its daughters parties:

Other short-lived political alliances based on/split-off Labor + extras, were:

-----------------------------------------------------------

Group 2: Center, Center-right and National parties

  • Yiud - יעוד1994-1996. Broke away from Tzomet in Knesset 13, then disappeared.
    • [ Gonen Segev - גונן שגב] Leader: 1994-1996. MK in Knesset 13

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Group 3: Religious (mostly right wing) Parties

  • Tami - תמ"י‎ (an acronym for Tnu'at Masoret Yisrael - תנועת מסורת ישראל‎) 1981-1984. Split from National Religious Party. Merged into Likud.
    • [ ‎Aharon Abuhatzira - אהרון אבו-חצירא]. Leader" 1981-1984. MK in Knessets: 8-12

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Group 4. Extreme left and Arab parties

Arab satellite lists Israeli Arab satellite parties formed for the purposes of electoral support of Mapai (and later the Labor Party) and Mapam between 1948 and the mid 1970s.

The following Arab political parties ran in the Knesset elections first as individual parties. Since 1996 they formed alliances of Arab parties, such as the Joint List - القائمة المشتركة - הרשימה המשותפת, from 2015-current: (Raam-Taal & Raam-Taal-Mada)

  • Balad - 1995-current - בָּלַ"ד - بلد .
    • [ Azmi Bishara - عزمي بشارة - עַזְמִי בִשַארָה] Leader: 1995-2007. MK in Knessets: 14-17
    • [ Jamal Zahalka - جمال زحالقة - ג'מאל זחאלקה] Leader: 2007-2019. MK in Knessets: 16-20
    • [ Mtanes Shehadeh - امطانس شحادة‎ - מְטַאנֵס שְׁחַאדֵה] Leader: 2019-2021. MK in Knessets: 14-17
    • [ Sami Abu Shehadeh - سامي ابو شحادة‎ - סָאמִי אַבּוּ שְׁחַאדַה] Leader: 2021-incumbent. MK in Knessets: 22-24

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