The Likud

Leader: Benjamin Netanyahu
Current Seats: 39 (as Likud and Kulanu)
Recommended candidate for prime minister in the Twenty-First Knesset: Benjamin Netanyahu (as Likud and Kulanu)
Supports/Opposes Two-State Solution: Opposes

Likud, the party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is Israel’s largest right-wing party. In 1977, under Menachem Begin’s leadership, the party broke the three-decade electoral monopoly of the Labor Party and its antecedents. Since then, it has been a dominant force in Israeli politics, returning to lead the government under prime ministers Yitzhak Shamir, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Ariel Sharon.

Last year, the Likud Central Committee overwhelmingly voted to endorse de facto annexation of West Bank Area C.

December 2017

The party’s primary philosophy includes a more hardline approach toward territorial concessions for the Palestinians and a commitment to economic liberalism (the latter tenet has mattered less as an ideological determinant since the privatization of Israel’s economy). While Benjamin Netanyahu has offered tepid endorsement of a two-state solution (which he has since walked back), the party officially opposes the creation of a Palestinian state. Last year, the Likud Central Committee overwhelmingly voted to endorse de facto annexation of West Bank Area C. On the eve of the April elections, Prime Minister Netanyahu promised to annex West Bank settlements, without regard for their size or location.

The party remains broadly committed to keeping Prime Minister Netanyahu in office, despite pending indictments against him in three corruption cases. In the last election cycle, Likud won 35 seats, but failed to form a government that would vote to grant Netanyahu immunity when Avigdor Liberman refused to have his Yisrael Beiteinu sit alongside the ultra-Orthodox parties. Theoretically, Likud sans-Netanyahu could have joined a unity government with Kachol Lavan. However, the party supported the prime minister’s push for new elections instead. Likud MKs like Gideon Saar and Michal Shir, perceived as critical of Netanyahu, ultimately voted in favor of dissolving the Knesset and moving to new elections.

Benjamin Netanyahu became the longest serving prime minister in Israeli history after April’s election.

In the lead up to the current election cycle, Likud merged with the center-right socioeconomic issues-focused party Kulanu, led by Moshe Kahlon, himself a former Likudnik. However, the party risks losing support to smaller right-wing factions, and Netanyahu is making shutting out Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu a special priority.