Political Parties and Politicians


Israeli Political Parties

  1. Kadima: centrist party, founded by politicians from Likud and Labour. Was in power 2006-09; now still has most seats in the Knesset and is chief opposition party.

  2. Labour: Centre-left and Zionist party, dominant 1948-1977.

  3. Likud: Main right-wing party. First came to power 1977.

  4. Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is our home): Extreme right-wing party supported by Russian immigrants.

  5. There are also smaller parties. Most governments are coalitions.

Leading Israeli Political Figures

  1. Ehud Barak: Labour. Former Prime Minister and present Minister of Defence.

  2. David Ben-Gurion; Early Zionist, prominent position in army during war of independence, first Prime Minister after independence; looked upon as ‘founder’ of Israel.

  3. Avigdor Lieberman: Founder of Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home: right wing party). Present Foreign Minister.

  4. Tzipi Livni: present leader of Kadima; leader of the opposition. As Foreign Minister in the Olmert government famously said of Gaza: 'Is there a humanitarian crisis? There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza'.

  5. Benjamin Netanyahu: Likud. Prime Minister, 1996-99; since March 09.

  6. Ehud Olmert: Kadima, Prime Minister, 2006-09.

  7. Shimon Peres: Member of Labour and more recently Kadima. Since 2007 President of Israel.

  8. Yitzhak Rabin: General (directed operations in Jerusalem in ’48 war; commanded Israeli forces in ’67) and politician (Labour Prime Minister, signed Oslo Accords); assassinated by right-wing Jew 1995.

  9. Ariel Sharon: General, took prominent part in ’67 and ’73 wars. Prime Minister, Likud, which he left to set up Kadima. A stroke in Jan. 2006 left him in a coma & vegetative state.

Israeli Governments 1986 -  March 2009 (election of present government)


Palestinian Political Parties

  1. Fatah/PLO. Fatah founded 1959; largest party in PLO founded 1964. Secular; in early days radical.  Lost credibility after Arafat signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. Widely seen as corrupt and incompetent. The PA’s 70K strong police and security forces, trained by Israel, are mostly Fatah supporters.

  2. Hamas. Islamic Resistance Movement, formed 1987; came out of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Has proved very effective in organising social welfare and is generally accounted non-corrupt. Opposed Oslo and will not sign up to a ceasefire while Israel occupies Palestinian territory. In theory seeks Israel’s destruction; in practice has indicated acceptance of ’67 boundary (green line) and offered Israel a 10-year (or longer) ceasefire. (Hamas).

Leading Palestinian Political Figures

  1. Mahmoud Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen).  Chair of PLO and present president of the PA.  Widely seen as a puppet of Israel (and the USA), a semi-collaborator heading a corrupt government. But led 2011 bid for recognition by U.N. of Palestinian statehood.

  2. Yasser Arafat. PLO leader, founded Fatah 1959. In the early years seen as a freedom fighter. Signed Oslo Accords 1993, leading to his becoming first president of the PA 1996.  Widely seen as corrupt in latter years. Confined in his Ramallah compound by Israelis 2002-04; died Nov. 2004.

  3. Marwan Barghouti. Fatah. Sometimes spoken of as the ‘Palestinian Mandela’. Informed speculation suggests Hamas would accept him as head of a joint negotiating team with Israel. At present imprisoned.

  4. Ismail Haniyeh. Hamas. Elected PM of the Palestinian National Authority, ousted by Fatah in West Bank, and now de facto PM of Gaza.

  5. Khaled Meshal Head of Hamas’ Political Bureau (in Damascus) and thus in effect of the movement. Born near Ramallah, he studied physics. In 1997 he was subject to an Israeli assassination attempt.

  6. (Sheikh) Ahmed Yassin. Hamas spiritual leader; paraplegic and almost blind, ‘taken out’ by Israel in March 2004.