Gesher "Bridge" Party
GESHER "BRIDGE" PARTY
Israeli political party, founded in February 1996 by Likud dissident David Levy, in anticipation of the Knesset elections of the following May. The centrist Gesher conceived of itself as a conduit between underprivileged Israeli social strata and a political ideal that would result from a synthesis of the Likud and Israel Labor Party programs. In March 1996, on the advice of Ariel Sharon, Levy accepted an alliance with Likud and Tsomet to present a common list, headed by Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu. A few Gesher members, opposing this alliance, decided to found their own group, Israel Hadashah. As a result of the vote of 19 May 1996, Gesher took five seats in the Knesset. The Israeli right had won: David Levy joined the government of Netanyahu as foreign minister, while David Magen became finance minister. During the next few months, some party members decided to join Likud. On 22 March 1999, preparing for the general elections to be held in May of the same year, in which Likud was not favored, Gesher allied itself with the Labor Party and Meimad to create a "One Israel" electoral coalition (Israel Ehad). On 18 May, after the vote, this new block had obtained twenty-six deputy seats, two of which belonged to Gesher. On 6 July, Levy became Foreign Minister in the government of Ehud Barak. Principal leaders of Gesher: David Levy, Yehuda Lancry, David Magen, Yacov Berdugo, Maxime Levy, and Michael Kleiner.