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Israeli Labor Party
Leader Ehud Barak
Founded 1968 (1968)
Headquarters Hatikva Quarter, Tel Aviv
Ideology Third Way
Social Democracy,
Labour Zionism
International affiliation Socialist International
European affiliation Party of European Socialists (observer)
Official colours Red
Ballot letters אמת
Seats in Knesset 13
Website
www.havoda.org.il
Politics of Israel
Political parties
Elections

The Israeli Labor Party (Hebrew: מפלגת העבודה הישראלית‎, About this sound Mifleget HaAvoda HaYisraelit ), generally known in Israel as Avoda (Hebrew: עבודה‎) is a center-left political party in Israel. It is a social democratic and Zionist party, a member of the Socialist International and an observer member of the Party of European Socialists. From 1999 until 2008, the party was allied to the small left-wing, religious Zionist party Meimad, in an electoral agreement whereby Meimad received the tenth seat on Labor's list.

Contents

History

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Dominating political party 1948-1977

The foundations for the formation of the Israeli Labor Party were laid shortly before the 1965 Knesset elections when Mapai, the largest left-wing party in the country formed an alliance with Ahdut HaAvoda. The alliance was an attempt by Mapai to shore up the party's share of the vote following a break-away of eight MKs (around a fifth of Mapai's Knesset faction) led by David Ben-Gurion to form a new party, Rafi, in protest against Mapai's failure to approve a change to the country's proportional representation voting system.

The alliance, called the Labor Alignment won 45 seats in the elections, and was able to form the government in coalition with the National Religious Party, Mapam, the Independent Liberals, Agudat Israel Workers, Progress and Development and Cooperation and Brotherhood. After the Six-Day War broke out, Rafi and Gahal joined the coalition.

On 23 January 1968 Mapai, Ahdut HaAvoda and Rafi (with the exception of Ben-Gurion, who formed the National List in protest) merged into one body; the Israeli Labor Party. On 28 January 1969, the party allied itself with Mapam, the alliance becoming known as the Alignment.

As the largest faction within the Alignment, Labor came to dominate it. Mapam left during the eighth Knesset, but rejoined shortly afterwards.

Opposition and comeback 1977-2001

In the 1977 elections, Labor for the first time ended up in opposition. They failed to take revanch four years later, but following the 1984 elections, they were able to join a national unity government with Likud, with the post as Prime Minister rotating between the two parties.

Mapam broke away again during the eleventh Knesset, angry at Shimon Peres's decision to form a national unity government with Likud. Although the Independent Liberals merged into the Alignment in the 1980s, they had no Knesset representation at the time.

On 7 October 1991 the Alignment ceased to exist, with all factions formally merged into the Labor Party. At this time, the Likud Government faced numerous problems, such as economic problems, the challenge of assimilating a large influx of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, serious tension with the American government under George H.W. Bush and internal division. Led by Yitzhak Rabin, Labor won the 1992 elections and formed the government together with Meretz and Shas.

The subsequent role of Labor became to a large extent tied to the controversial Oslo process, based on the principle "land for peace". The Oslo Accords led to a vote of confidence, which the Government won with a margin of 61-50 (8 abstained). Several MK:s from the Government parties declined to support the Government, but on the other hand, the Arab parties came to its rescue. Due to the lack of a constitution in Israel, the Government was able to implement the accords with a thin margin.

Rabin's decision to advance peace talks with the Palestinians to the point of signing the Oslo Accords led to his his assassination by Yigal Amir in 1995. Peres decided to call early elections in 1996 to give him a mandate for advancing the peace process. However, his ploy failed; although Labor won the most seats in the Knesset election, he lost to the election for Prime Minister to Benjamin Netanyahu following a wave of suicide bombings by Hamas. Netanyahu and Likud were thus able to form the government.

With his coalition falling apart, Netanyahu decided to call early elections in 1999. Ehud Barak won the internal primaries, and was nominated as the Labor candidate for Prime Minister. Meanwhile, the party entered an electoral alliance with Meimad and Gesher called One Israel. Barak won the Prime Minister election, whilst One Israel won the Knesset elections, albeit with only 26 seats.

Barak started by forming a 75-member coalition together with Shas, Meretz, Yisrael BaAliyah, the National Religious Party and United Torah Judaism. The coalition with religious parties (NRP, Shas and UTJ) caused tensions with the secularist Meretz, who quit the coalition after a disagreement with Shas over the authority of the Deputy Education Minister. The rest of the parties left before the Camp David 2000 summit.

Decline 2001-

Following the October 2000 riots and the violence of the al-Aqsa Intifada, Barak resigned from office. He then lost a special election for Prime Minister to Likud's Ariel Sharon. However, Labor remained in Sharon's coalition as he formed a national unity government with Likud, Labor, Shas, Yisrael BaAliyah and United Torah Judaism, and were given two of the most important cabinet portfolios; Peres was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and Benjanin Ben-Eliezer was made Defense Minister. Labor supported Operation Defensive Shield, which was conducted in April 2002 against Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank. After harsh criticism that Peres and Ben-Elizer were "puppets" of Sharon and not promoting the peace process, Labor quit the government in 2003.

Prior to the 2003 elections, Amram Mitzna won the party primaries, and led the party into the election with a platform that included unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The party was routed in the elections, winning only 19 seats (its lowest ever), whilst Sharon's Likud won 38 (40 after Yisrael BaAliyah merged into the party). Subsequently, due to internal opposition, Mitzna resigned from the party leadership,[1] and soon there after was replaced by Shimon Peres. Despite being omitted from the original right-wing coalition, Sharon invited Labor into the coalition to shore up support for the disengagement plan (effectively Mitzna's policy which he had earlier lambasted) after the National Union and the National Religious Party had left the government.

On 8 November 2005 Shimon Peres was replaced as the leader of the Labor party by the election of left-wing Histadrut union leader Amir Peretz in an internal Labor party ballot. Over the years, Labor had abandoned its socialist heritage in favor of economic and business elites. Now a party of the wealthy and passed the mantle of custodian of the underprivileged to right-wing and religious parties.[2] Peretz stated his intention to reassert Labor's traditional socialist policies and took Labor party out of the government, prompting Sharon to resign and call for new elections in March 2006. Prior to the election, the political map had been redrawn, as Sharon and the majority of Likud's MK:s, together with a number of Labor MK:s, including Shimon Peres, and some from other parties, had formed Kadima. In the elections Labor won 19 seats, making it the second largest party after Kadima. It joined Ehud Olmert's Kadima-led government, with Peretz appointed Defense Minister. Labor's main coalition demand and campaign promise was raising the minimum wage.[3]

On 28 May 2007 a leadership election resulted in Ehud Barak and Ami Ayalon beating Peretz into third place. In the run-off election (required as neither Barak nor Ayalon received over 40% of the vote), Barak was re-elected as party chairman. Despite stating that he would withdraw the party from the government unless Olmert resigned,[4] Barak remained in government and took over as Defense Minister.

Prior to the 2009 elections Labor and Meimad ended their alliance, with Meimad ultimately running a joint list with the Green Movement (which did not pass the electoral threshold). Several prominent members left the party, including Ami Ayalon, and Efraim Sneh (who formed Yisrael Hazaka). In the elections Labor was reduced to just 13 seats, making it the fourth largest party behind Kadima, Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu.

Analyzing the downfall of the once dominant political party in Israel, Efraim Inbar of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies points to several factors. By forfeiting identification with the establishment and building of the State of Israel, symbolized by a predilection for military service and by the settling of the land of Israel, Labor lost its most important asset. Deserting the Zionist symbol of Jerusalem, by showing willingness to cede part of it to the enemy was an ill-fated move. When cosmopolitan and individualist values made inroads into the party, it distanced itself from the collectivist ethos that has been dominant and is still widespread in Israel. By making their stake on the Oslo process, they could not avoid being discredited by its fiasco. Demographic factors have worked against Labor, as the growing Sefardi population, as well as the recent Russian-Jewish immigrants, have largely voted for other parties. Flirting with the Israeli Arab voters has been devastating for the image of the party, and yielded no harvest.[2]

Political principles

Past

Mapai evolved from the socialist Poale Zion movement and adhered to the Socialist Zionist ideology promulgated by Nahum Syrkin and Ber Borochov. During Ben-Gurion's leadership (1930s-1950s), Mapai focused mainly on the Zionist agenda, since it was the most urgent issue then - establishing a national homeland for Jews.

After the founding of the state of Israel, Mapai engaged in nation building - the establishment of the Israel Defense Forces (while dismantling every other armed group), the establishment of many settlements, the settling of more than 1,000,000 Jewish immigrants and the desire to unite all the inhabitants of Israel under a new Zionist Jewish Israeli culture (an ideology known as the "Melting pot" כור היתוך).

Labor in the past was more hawkish on security and defense issues than it is today. During its years in office, Israel has fought the 1956 Sinai War, the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War.

Current

In recent years (up until 2005), Labor became a centrist party. It was no longer considered socialist or social democratic (though it retained membership in the Socialist International) but had a centrist platform, similar to the Third Way of British Labour Party under Tony Blair. Economic policies in Israel being seldom hotly debated even within the major parties, actual policies depended much more on initiative by the civil service than on political ideologies. Therefore, Labor's terms in office during this period did not differ significantly in terms of economic policy from those of its rival.

In November 2005, Amir Peretz, leader of the social democratic One Nation which had merged into Labor, was elected chairman of the party, defeating Shimon Peres. Under Peretz, and especially in the 2006 electoral campaign, the party took a significant ideological turn, putting social and economic issues on top of its agenda, and advocating a moderate social democratic approach (including increases in minimum wage and social security payments), in sharp contrast to the neo-liberal policies led by former Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

In 2006, several members of the ILP left to join the new centrist grouping, Kadima; these included former Labor leader Shimon Peres, Haim Ramon, and Dalia Itzik.

The international media has described the Labor Party as center-left, social democratic, and dovish.

Party leaders

Other prominent members

Prominent former members include:

Current MKs

  1. Ehud Barak
  2. Isaac Herzog
  3. Ophir Pines-Paz
  4. Avishay Braverman
  5. Shelly Yachimovich

6. Matan Vilnai
7. Eitan Cabel
8. Binyamin Ben-Eliezer
9. Yuli Tamir

10. Amir Peretz
11. Daniel Ben-Simon
12. Shalom Simhon
13. Orit Noked

References

  1. ^ Mitzna's resignation speech
  2. ^ a b Efraim Inbar: The Decline of the Israel Labor Party Perspectives Papers on Current Affairs, Perspectives 70, February 23, 2009.
  3. ^ Kadima, Labor talks 'making progress'
  4. ^ Israel party votes to oust leader BBC News, 29 May 2007

External links


Israeli Labor Party
Leader Ehud Barak
Founded 1968 (1968)
Headquarters Beit Berl, Israel
Youth wing Young Guard of the Labour Party
Ideology Social democracy,
Third Way,
Labor Zionism
International affiliation Socialist International
European affiliation Party of European Socialists (observer)
Official colours Red
Knesset
13 / 120
Election symbol
אמת
Website
www.havoda.org.il

The Israeli Labor Party (Hebrew: מפלגת העבודה הישראלית‎, Mifleget HaAvoda HaYisraelit ), generally known in Israel as Avoda (Hebrew: עבודה‎) is a center-left political party in Israel. It is a social democratic and Zionist party, a member of the Socialist International and an observer member of the Party of European Socialists. From 1999 until 2008, the party was allied to the small left-wing, religious Zionist party Meimad, in an electoral agreement whereby Meimad received the tenth seat on Labor's list.

Contents

History

Dominating political party 1948-1977

The foundations for the formation of the Israeli Labor Party were laid shortly before the 1965 Knesset elections when Mapai, the largest left-wing party in the country formed an alliance with Ahdut HaAvoda. The alliance was an attempt by Mapai to shore up the party's share of the vote following a break-away of eight MKs (around a fifth of Mapai's Knesset faction) led by David Ben-Gurion to form a new party, Rafi, in protest against Mapai's failure to approve a change to the country's proportional representation voting system.

The alliance, called the Labor Alignment won 45 seats in the elections, and was able to form the government in coalition with the National Religious Party, Mapam, the Independent Liberals, Agudat Israel Workers, Progress and Development and Cooperation and Brotherhood. After the Six-Day War broke out, Rafi and Gahal joined the coalition.

On 23 January 1968 Mapai, Ahdut HaAvoda and Rafi (with the exception of Ben-Gurion, who formed the National List in protest) merged into one body; the Israeli Labor Party. On 28 January 1969, the party allied itself with Mapam, the alliance becoming known as the Alignment.

As the largest faction within the Alignment, Labor came to dominate it. Mapam left during the eighth Knesset, but rejoined shortly afterwards.

Opposition and comeback 1977-2001

In the 1977 elections, Labor for the first time ended up in opposition. They failed to take revanch four years later, but following the 1984 elections, they were able to join a national unity government with Likud, with the post as Prime Minister rotating between the two parties.

Mapam broke away again during the eleventh Knesset, angry at Shimon Peres's decision to form a national unity government with Likud. Although the Independent Liberals merged into the Alignment in the 1980s, they had no Knesset representation at the time.

On 7 October 1991 the Alignment ceased to exist, with all factions formally merged into the Labor Party. At this time, the Likud Government faced numerous problems, such as economic problems, the challenge of assimilating a large influx of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, serious tension with the American government under George H.W. Bush and internal division. Led by Yitzhak Rabin, Labor won the 1992 elections and formed the government together with Meretz and Shas.

The subsequent role of Labor became to a large extent tied to the controversial Oslo process, based on the principle "land for peace". The Oslo Accords led to a vote of confidence, which the Government won with a margin of 61-50 (8 abstained). Several MKs from the Government parties declined to support the Government, but on the other hand, the Arab parties came to its rescue. Due to the lack of a constitution in Israel, the Government was able to implement the accords with a thin margin.

Rabin's decision to advance peace talks with the Palestinians to the point of signing the Oslo Accords led to his his assassination by Yigal Amir in 1995. Peres decided to call early elections in 1996 to give him a mandate for advancing the peace process. However, his ploy failed; although Labor won the most seats in the Knesset election, he lost to the election for Prime Minister to Benjamin Netanyahu following a wave of suicide bombings by Hamas. Netanyahu and Likud were thus able to form the government.

With his coalition falling apart, Netanyahu decided to call early elections in 1999. Ehud Barak won the internal primaries, and was nominated as the Labor candidate for Prime Minister. Meanwhile, the party entered an electoral alliance with Meimad and Gesher called One Israel. Barak won the Prime Minister election, whilst One Israel won the Knesset elections, albeit with only 26 seats.

Barak started by forming a 75-member coalition together with Shas, Meretz, Yisrael BaAliyah, the National Religious Party and United Torah Judaism. The coalition with religious parties (NRP, Shas and UTJ) caused tensions with the secularist Meretz, who quit the coalition after a disagreement with Shas over the authority of the Deputy Education Minister. The rest of the parties left before the Camp David 2000 summit.

Decline 2001-

Following the October 2000 riots and the violence of the al-Aqsa Intifada, Barak resigned from office. He then lost a special election for Prime Minister to Likud's Ariel Sharon. However, Labor remained in Sharon's coalition as he formed a national unity government with Likud, Labor, Shas, Yisrael BaAliyah and United Torah Judaism, and were given two of the most important cabinet portfolios; Peres was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and Benjanin Ben-Eliezer was made Defense Minister. Labor supported Operation Defensive Shield, which was conducted in April 2002 against Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank. After harsh criticism that Peres and Ben-Elizer were "puppets" of Sharon and not promoting the peace process, Labor quit the government in 2003.

Prior to the 2003 elections, Amram Mitzna won the party primaries, and led the party into the election with a platform that included unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The party was routed in the elections, winning only 19 seats (its lowest ever), whilst Sharon's Likud won 38 (40 after Yisrael BaAliyah merged into the party). Subsequently, due to internal opposition, Mitzna resigned from the party leadership,[1] and soon there after was replaced by Shimon Peres. Despite being omitted from the original right-wing coalition, Sharon invited Labor into the coalition to shore up support for the disengagement plan (effectively Mitzna's policy which he had earlier lambasted) after the National Union and the National Religious Party had left the government.

On 8 November 2005 Shimon Peres was replaced as the leader of the Labor party by the election of left-wing Histadrut union leader Amir Peretz in an internal Labor party ballot. Over the years, Labor had abandoned its socialist heritage in favor of economic and business elites. Now a party of the wealthy and passed the mantle of custodian of the underprivileged to right-wing and religious parties.[2] Peretz stated his intention to reassert Labor's traditional socialist policies and took Labor party out of the government, prompting Sharon to resign and call for new elections in March 2006. Prior to the election, the political map had been redrawn, as Sharon and the majority of Likud's MK:s, together with a number of Labor MK:s, including Shimon Peres, and some from other parties, had formed Kadima. In the elections Labor won 19 seats, making it the second largest party after Kadima. It joined Ehud Olmert's Kadima-led government, with Peretz appointed Defense Minister. Labor's main coalition demand and campaign promise was raising the minimum wage.[3]

On 28 May 2007 a leadership election resulted in Ehud Barak and Ami Ayalon beating Peretz into third place. In the run-off election (required as neither Barak nor Ayalon received over 40% of the vote), Barak was re-elected as party chairman. Despite stating that he would withdraw the party from the government unless Olmert resigned,[4] Barak remained in government and took over as Defense Minister.

Prior to the 2009 elections Labor and Meimad ended their alliance, with Meimad ultimately running a joint list with the Green Movement (which did not pass the electoral threshold). Several prominent members left the party, including Ami Ayalon, and Efraim Sneh (who formed Yisrael Hazaka). In the elections Labor was reduced to just 13 seats, making it the fourth largest party behind Kadima, Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu.

Analyzing the downfall of the once dominant political party in Israel, Efraim Inbar of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies points to several factors. By forfeiting identification with the establishment and building of the State of Israel, symbolized by a predilection for military service and by the settling of the land of Israel, Labor lost its most important asset. Deserting the Zionist symbol of Jerusalem, by showing willingness to cede part of it to the Palestinians was an ill-fated move. When cosmopolitan and individualist values made inroads into the party, it distanced itself from the collectivist ethos that has been dominant and is still widespread in Israel. Their association with the Oslo process meant that they could not avoid being discredited by its failure. Demographic factors have worked against Labor, as the growing Sefardi population, as well as the recent Russian-Jewish immigrants, have largely voted for other parties. Flirting with the Israeli Arab voters has damaged the image of the party, and yielded no harvest.[2]

Political principles

Past

Mapai evolved from the socialist Poale Zion movement and adhered to the Socialist Zionist ideology promulgated by Nahum Syrkin and Ber Borochov. During Ben-Gurion's leadership (1930s-1950s), Mapai focused mainly on the Zionist agenda, since it was the most urgent issue then - establishing a national homeland for Jews.

After the founding of the state of Israel, Mapai engaged in nation building - the establishment of the Israel Defense Forces (while dismantling every other armed group), the establishment of many settlements, the settling of more than 1,000,000 Jewish immigrants and the desire to unite all the inhabitants of Israel under a new Zionist Jewish Israeli culture (an ideology known as the "Melting pot" כור היתוך).

Labor in the past was more hawkish on security and defense issues than it is today. During its years in office, Israel has fought the 1956 Sinai War, the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War.

Current

In recent years (up until 2005), Labor became a centrist party. It was no longer considered socialist or social democratic (though it retained membership in the Socialist International) but had a centrist platform, similar to the Third Way of British Labour Party under Tony Blair. Economic policies in Israel being seldom hotly debated even within the major parties, actual policies depended much more on initiative by the civil service than on political ideologies. Therefore, Labor's terms in office during this period did not differ significantly in terms of economic policy from those of its rival.

In November 2005, Amir Peretz, leader of the social democratic One Nation which had merged into Labor, was elected chairman of the party, defeating Shimon Peres. Under Peretz, and especially in the 2006 electoral campaign, the party took a significant ideological turn, putting social and economic issues on top of its agenda, and advocating a moderate social democratic approach (including increases in minimum wage and social security payments), in sharp contrast to the neo-liberal policies led by former Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

In 2006, several members of the ILP left to join the new centrist grouping, Kadima; these included former Labor leader Shimon Peres, Haim Ramon, and Dalia Itzik.

The international media has described the Labor Party as center-left, social democratic, and dovish.

Party leaders

Other prominent members

Prominent former members include:

Current MKs

References

  1. ^ "Mitzna's resignation speech". Ynet.co.il. 1995-06-20. http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/1,7340,L-2608896,00.html. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  2. ^ a b Efraim Inbar: The Decline of the Israel Labor Party Perspectives Papers on Current Affairs, Perspectives 70, February 23, 2009.
  3. ^ Kadima, Labor talks 'making progress'
  4. ^ Israel party votes to oust leader BBC News, 29 May 2007

External links


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