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Likud

LIKUD

An Israeli electoral bloc established in 1973.

Originally, Likud consisted of several independent parties: the Herut Party, the Liberal Party, the Free Center, State List, and part of the Land of Israel Movement. Much of the emphasis of its program has been on extension of Israeli sovereignty to the territories conquered in the ArabIsrael War of 1967. It also called for improvement of the social and economic conditions of disadvantaged communities known as Oriental Jews (Edot ha-Mizrah).

Taking advantage of public disenchantment with the Labor Party in 1977, Likud won forty-three Knesset seats and formed a coalition government led by Menachem Begin, which continued until 1984. In that year, neither Likud nor the Labor Alignment bloc won enough to form a coalition without the other. The two joined in a National Unity Government in which Likud leader Yitzhak Shamir held the office of prime minister for half of the electoral period, and the blocs divided other government offices. In 1988, Likud and other right-wing and religious parties improved their showing, and Shamir again led the government until the Labor victory of 1992.

During its years in power, Likud strongly resisted surrendering sovereignty over the Palestinian territories and made little progress in reducing the role of the government in the economy. One of Likud's problems has been the presence in it of several strong individuals and their factions, including Shamir, former Chief of Staff Ariel Sharon, and Moroccan leader David Levyall of whom have tried vigorously to become dominant. In 1993, the Likud chairmanship was won by Benjamin Netanyahu, former ambassador to the United Nations and brother to the hero of the Israeli raid on Entebbe. He defeated his former rivals as well as younger figures like Ze'ev Begin, with a spirited campaign based on American-style politics and effective use of the media, even though it was an election confined to party members.

see also arabisrael war (1967); israel: political parties in; mizrahi movement.

walter f. weiker

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