Liberal Party


Liberal Party
(Hamiflaga Haliberalit)
   A political party established during the fifth Knesset (1961-65) by a merger of the General Zionist Party (Hatzionim Haklaliyim) and the Progressive Party (Hamiflaga Haprogressivit). The party's beginnings can be traced to middle-of-the-road Zionists who wanted to unify all Zionists without regard to socialist, Revisionist, or religious feelings. They stressed industrial development and private enterprise. This group split into two wings in 1935: General Zionists A, the larger of the two groups led by Chaim Weizmann, on the left, and General Zionists B, on the right. Both were comprised of industrialists, merchants, landlords, white-collar professionals, and intellectuals. The two factions merged in 1946 to form the General Zionist Party and split again in 1948, when one group formed the Progressive Party. They merged once again in 1961 as the Liberal Party and won 17 seats in the Knesset election that year, the same as Herut. In 1965, Herut and the Liberals set up an electoral alliance called Gahal. Seven Liberals in the Knesset refused to join Gahal and formed the Independent Liberal Party. From 1965 to 1977, the Independent Liberals averaged about 3.5 percent of the vote and retained 4 or 5 Knesset seats. In 1971, they won only 1 seat, and in 1981, with only 0.6 percent of the vote, they disappeared from the Knesset.
   In the meantime, in 1973, retired general Ariel Sharon, then a member of the Liberal Party within Gahal, advocated a wider union of parties that could present itself as a genuine alternative to the Alignment. Sharon and Ezer Weizman successfully brought the Free Center Party, the State List, and the Land of Israel Movement (an interest group advocating immediate Israeli settlement and development of the Occupied Territories) into the Herut-Liberal alliance to form Likud.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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