Herut Party

(Tenuat Haherut—Freedom Movement)
   A political party founded by the Irgun in June 1948 after the independence of Israel and the dissolution of the Irgun. Herut is descended from the Revisionist (New Zionist) Movement of Vladimir Ze'ev Jabotinsky. The Revisionists advocated militant ul-tranationalistic action as the means to achieve Jewish statehood. Revisionism called for the creation of a Jewish state in "Greater Israel" (i.e., all Palestine and Jordan, rapid mass immigration (see ALIYA) of Jews into Palestine, formation of a free-enterprise economy, rapid industrialization—as opposed to agricultural settlements—to increase employment opportunities, a ban on strikes, and a strong army. Betar, the Revisionist youth movement, was founded by Jabotinsky in 1920 and continues as the Herut youth wing.
   Menachem Begin founded the Irgun, which established Herut as its political arm, to advocate the Revisionist program within the new political context of the state of Israel. Herut's basic political orientation has changed little over the years. It advocates the "inalienable" right of Jews to settle anywhere in Israel, in its historic entirety, including Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). Herut advocates the unification of Eretz Israel within its historic boundaries and favors a national economy based on private initiative and free competition. Other policies include a minimum of economic controls, a restructured free-enterprise system to attract capital investment, and prohibiting the right to strike.
   In 1965, Herut combined with the Liberal Party to form Gahal. In 1973, Gahal and several small parties combined to form Likud. Within Herut and Likud, Begin was the primary force from Israel's independence until his retirement in 1983. He was regarded by many as a heroic figure because of his role as a leader of the Irgun underground in the Israeli struggle for independence. Upon Begin's retirement, Yitzhak Shamir became party leader and prime minister, although he was challenged within Herut, especially by David Levy and Ariel Sharon. Shamir retired from party politics after the 1992 election (see KNESSET ELECTIONS) and was replaced as Likud leader by Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu resigned as party leader on 17 May 1999 following his defeat in the direct election for prime minister; he was succeeded on 2 September 1999 by Sharon. Upon Sharon's departure in 2005, Netanyahu was again elected to lead Herut and Likud. The activities of Herut have been integrated into the Likud Party.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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