- The Communist Movement began in Palestine in 1919 during the British mandate and has existed continuously since that time, although it has been plagued by internal divisions and splits. Although isolated from the mainstream of political life and prevented from joining the government, Communist parties have been legal in Israel since independence and have been represented in the Knesset continuously. On average, the Communists secure four or five seats in the Knesset.The Israel Communist Party (Miflaga Kommunistit Yisraelit; Maki) was founded in 1948 and split in 1965. The splinter group, the New Communist List (Reshima Komunistit Hadasha; Rakah) was pro-Moscow and strongly anti-Zionist and primarily drew its membership from Israel's Arab population. In 1977, a merger of the Communist Party and the Black Panthers resulted in the creation of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash). Drawing on support from disadvantaged classes of Jewish and Arab Israelis, Hadash won four seats in each of the 1981, 1984, and 1988 Knesset elections. It took three seats in 1992 and five in 1996.The party's domestic policy platform has tended to focus on measures to improve the lot of all disadvantaged Israelis and the extension of full rights and opportunities to Israeli Arabs. In security and foreign policy, it was among the first political parties to advocate open contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization, complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and the establishment there of an independent Palestinian state. Since the first Knesset, the Communist Party was led by Meir Wilner, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. In 1990, the leadership of the party was taken over by Towfik Ziad, the former mayor of the Arab city of Nazareth, who in turn was succeeded by Hashem Ma-hameed, the former mayor of the Arab village of Umm el Fahm. In November 1997, Mahameed resigned as chairman of Hadash's ruling council, citing his frustration over internal divisions within the party.As Hadash, the party contested the 17 May 1999 elections under the leadership of Mohammed Barakei, winning three seats in the 15th Knesset. The Hadash-Ta'al coalition won three mandates in the 2003 election to the 16th Knesset. An electoral coalition involving Hadash and Ta'al took three mandates again in the 2006 election to the 17th Knesset.See also Arab Political Parties.
Historical Dictionary of Israel. Bernard Reich David H. Goldberg. Edited by Jon Woronoff..
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