Citizens' Rights and Peace Movement

   A social liberal political party established by Shulamit Aloni, a former Israel Labor Party member and civil rights activist, in August 1973, although it began to develop in earnest following the Yom Kippur War (1973), when there was substantial discontent with the Labor Party. It called for electoral reform, the introduction of a basic law protecting human rights, recognition of a Palestinian entity and the Palestinian right to self-determination, the separation of religion and state, and equal rights for women. In the election to the 8th Knesset, which took place on 31 December 1973, the CRM won 3 seats and joined the government coalition for a brief period in 1974. It gained only one seat in the elections to both the 9th Knesset (1977) and the 10th Knesset (1981), but following the 1981 election, Aloni joined the Alignment so that it would have the same number of seats (48) as the Likud bloc, and thus it would be blocked in its efforts to form the new government. The tactic failed, and in 1984, the CRM struck out on its own, taking with it a number of young Labor Party activists (such as Yossi Sarid) who had become disenchanted with Labor's infighting and its perceived gradual shift away from its founding ideological convictions. The CRM won 3 Knesset seats in 1984 and 5 in 1988. In 1992, it joined with Mapam and Center-Shinui to form the Meretz/Democratic Israel faction that won 12 Knesset mandates and participated in the 1992-96 Labor-led coalition government.
   The party changed character in the 1980s, becoming a party whose membership is drawn from a variety of older groups. The party is now composed of the historical CRM, including liberals and secularists; the academics of the "group of 100" (including former Peace Now and Labor Party doves); and former Shelli members. Its constituency is primarily the "middle class" Ashkenazi population, and its platform emphasizes civil rights for all Israelis. It continues to oppose discrimination based on religion, sex, or ethnic identification and advocates a peace settlement with the Arabs and the Palestinians. Beginning with the 1988 Knesset election, it has supported a platform that recognized the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and called on the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to recognize Israel's right to a sovereign and secure existence so that the PLO would be able to participate in peace negotiations as the representative of the Palestinian people. It believes that the Palestinian people should ultimately decide what form their self-determination should take. On domestic issues, it stands for the separation of religion and state.
   In 1996, long-time leader of the CRM and Meretz Aloni retired from party politics and was succeeded by Sarid. In the election to the 14th Knesset (1996), the CRM and Meretz won 9 seats, down from 12 in 1992. The CRM and Meretz made two significant changes to their foreign policy platform for the 17 May 1999 election to the 15th Knesset: they called for the unilateral withdrawal of Israeli forces from the south Lebanon security zone, and, while promoting the national consensus in favor of the continued unified status of Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty, they called for greater respect for Palestinian representatives and institutions in the city. In 1999, the party also campaigned aggressively against the special privileges accorded by the incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu-led government to the ultra-Orthodox political parties and their constituents.
   The party won 10 seats in the 15th Knesset and joined the governing coalition headed by Ehud Barak, with Sarid as education minister and Ran Cohen as industry and trade minister. Support for Meretz slipped to only six mandates in the elections to the 16th Knesset in 2003, after which Sarid resigned as leader. On 21 March 2004, the membership of Meretz voted overwhelmingly to change the name of their party to Yahad-Social Democratic Israel, under the leadership of former Labor member of the Knesset and minister Joseph (Yossi) Beilin. Under Beilin's leadership, the new Yahad-Meretz faction won only 5 seats in the 2006 election to the 17th Knesset.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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