Israel B'Aliya

(Israel for Immigration/Israel Moving Upward)
   A political party headed by Anatoly (Natan) Sharansky and comprised mostly of immigrants (see ALIYA) from the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that ran for the first time in the 1996 election (see KNESSET ELECTIONS) and won seven Knesset seats. It participated in the governing coalition formed by Benjamin Netanyahu, with Sharansky serving as minister of industry and trade and Yuli Edelstein as immigrant absorption minister. Israel B'Aliya advocated increased funding for the absorption of immigrants. It also adopted a liberal perspective on domestic economic and social issues, including the recognition by religious authorities of conversions to Judaism performed by non-Orthodox rabbis and the patri-lineal line of Jewish descent. On security and foreign policy, it sought to present itself as a centrist party—contending that future Israeli governments must be prepared to abide by international obligations entered into by previous governments (e.g., the Oslo Accords) but at the same time demanding full compliance from the Arab side in all peace agreements.
   Israel B'Aliya won six seats in the election for the 15th Knesset in 1999; Sharansky was appointed interior minister in the governing coalition headed by Ehud Barak, with Marina Solodkin serving as deputy minister of immigrant absorption. However, only days after the new government was formed, Israel B'Aliya was rocked by the departure of two members of the Knesset (Roman Bronfman and Alexander Tsinker), who moved to set up an independent faction in the Knesset. Israel B'Aliya left the government in the spring of 2000 to protest the territorial concessions Barak was offering to the Palestinians at Camp David (July 2000). Israel B'Aliya took only two mandates in the 2003 election to the 16th Knesset, with the party founder and former leader Natan Sharansky losing his seat as a consequence. Rather than sitting in the Knesset as a miniparty, it chose to be integrated with the Likud Party.
   See also Law of Return.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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