The Likud

Leader: Benjamin Netanyahu

Current Seats: 30

Government/Opposition in Last Knesset: Government
Supports/Opposes Two-State Solution: Opposes

Likud 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 was formed as a union of several smaller right-wing factions. 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 partially 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.

Should Benjamin Netanyahu win this election, he will almost certainly surpass David Ben-Gurion’s records as Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister.

Because Likud is a large party, some members hold conflicting views on different policy platforms. Dissident factions have previously split off from the party, including Herut-National Movement (not to be confused with Menachem Begin’s Herut), which left in protest over Benjamin Netanyahu’s withdrawal from certain West Bank territories under the 1998 Wye River Memorandum. The disengagement from Gaza under Likud Prime Minister Ariel Sharon divided the party, leading Sharon to launch a new centrist faction, Kadima. In the 2019 elections, a small moderate movement called the New Likud is running in Likud’s primaries. New Likud members have faced opprobrium from their more right-wing colleagues and have been summoned by the party leadership, which may seek to expel the New Likudniks. The New Likud takes a vague position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, instead focusing on issues like liberal democracy, the rule of law, and the economy.

WATCH: Likud Lawmakers Before Central Committee Vote on Annexation