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Israel-Palestine: Political Parties & Factions
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Israel-Palestine: Political Parties & Factions


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A presentation given to students on the various political parties and militant factions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, circa summer 2011. …

A presentation given to students on the various political parties and militant factions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, circa summer 2011.

Israel's government is a proportional representation that has many parties. It is unlikely for any single party to get
enough representation to form a government - so it is has been always necessary to form a coalition government.

The Palestinian governance structure and breakup is even more complicated than the Israelis, if such is possible.

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    • Israel's government is a proportional representation that has many parties. It is unlikely for any single party to get enough representation to form a government - so it is has been always necessary to form a coalition government. See example: 
    In a (overly simplified) two-party system, any party with a simple majority , in this case the "right-wing" party (red) will run the government and determine government policies for the term
    • However, Israel doesn't have a traditional two or three or even four party, but instead many many small parties, some of which join to make slightly larger coalition parties, and where many of these coalition parties must join to form a government.
    In this current example, the results of the 2009 election, you can see the two largest parties, the centrist  Kadima and the center-right  Likud  had 23 and 22% of the votes. To form a government, at least 61 seats, slightly over 50%, must be agreed upon. This is often problematic.
      • Kadima
      • Likud
      • Yisrael Beiteinu
      • Labor
      • Independence *
      • National Union **
      • Meretz
    • * Independence are formerly members of Labor, forming a new party to stay in the government
    • ** National Union is a coalition party of both religious and extreme (revisionist) Zionist parties
      • Shas
      • United Torah Judaism
      • United Arab List
      • Hadash
      • Balad
  • 5. KADIMA Forward 28 / 120 IDEOLOGIES Centrist Liberal Zionism FOUNDED 2005 Ariel Sharon LEADER Tzipi Livni Slogans: (1) The courage to change (2) A different leadership Platform: (1) Peace Process based on the "Road Map" (2) Creation of a Palestinian State (3) Negotiations with Hamas if they accept Israel's right to exist, past agreements, renounce violence (4) No further unilateral withdrawals; although reserving the right to determine the borders of Palestine if their obligations under the "Road Map" are not fulfilled. (5)   Favors  keeping the major settlement blocks (including Ariel, Gush Etzion, Ma'alei Adumim) (6) Legalize civil marriage and burial  Notes: (1) Compromised of former center-leaning Likud members, and some former right-leaning Labor (2) Olmert's corruption scandal and the 2006 Lebanon war (where Israeli public opinion dropped to single digits) damaged the party.
  • 6. LIKUD The Consolidation 27 / 120 IDEOLOGIES Liberal Conservatism Revisionist Zionism FOUNDED 1977 Menachem Begin LEADER Benjamin Netanyahu Slogans: (1)  Because we have a country to run (2) Remaining strong together Platform: (1) Will negotiate with any Palestinian leadership "not compromised by terror". Will not negotiate with Hamas. (2) In favor of a  realistic  solution to the advancement of the peace-process; focus on improving the Palestinian economy (3) Opposed to dismantling of major settlements (4) Favors maintaining status quo in any religious/state issues Notes: (1) Likud has many very nationalist members (like Danny Danon, who is anti-Two State Solution), and some liberal-leaning pragmatic members (like Dan Meridor and Uzi Dayan). It's hard to put them all in one camp*. An example is Moshe Yaalon and Benny Begin, who completely oppose each-other politically.
  • 7. YISRAEL BEITEINU Israel is Our Home 15 / 120 IDEOLOGIES Nationalism Secularism Revisionist Zionism Russian-Speaking FOUNDED 1999 Avigdor Lieberman LEADER Avigdor Lieberman Slogans: (1)  Lieberman, I trust him! (2) Leadership You Can Trust Platform: (1) A belief that the "land for peace approach" is fundamentally flawed - only a "land for land - peace for peace" approach, with some compromises on both sides, can succeed (2) Strong security and anti-crime Platform (3) A desire to see Israel join NATO and the EU (4) Easing of conversions and the introduction of civil unions, while strengthening the Jewish nature of the state. Notes: (1) Lieberman was originally a member of Likud (2) Left the government in 2008 in protest against talks with PA (3) Supports the  controversial  "triangle plan" for the creation of a Palestinian state - so it does not get along well with religious or ultra-nationalist parties
  • 8. SHAS 10 / 120 IDEOLOGIES Sephardic & Mizrahi Haredi Judaism Populism Conservatism FOUNDED 1984 Aryeh Deri LEADER Eli Yishai Slogans: (1) Yes, We Can Platform: (1) Sephardic religious movement (2) Government policies should be based on strict Jewish law (3) Prepared to relinquish land in return for peace (4) Pragmatic approach to security based on the sanctity of life (5) Higher social payments to large families and increase funding for the Yeshivas Notes: (1) Shas, unlike some of the other religious parties, has been willing to sit with the Palestinian Authority (2) Was formally a non-Zionist party, but joined the World Zionist Organization in 2010 - so is now considered a "Zionist party"
  • 9. LABOR (Socialist) 8 / 120 IDEOLOGIES Social Democracy Labor Zionism FOUNDED 1948 David Ben-Gurion LEADER Pending Slogans: (1)  Look Me in the Eyes and See the Truth (2) Not Nice, a Leader Platform: (1) Willing to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority while remaining strong on security (2) In favor of the creation of a Palestinian State, and dismantling isolated settlements (3) Favors increasing the minimum wage, guaranteeing pensions to every employee, and increased social security benefits for the elder and the handicapped. (4) Favors maintaining the religious state quo Notes: (1) Originally called Mapai in 1948 (2) After Ehud Barak left to form a new party, there has not been a single strong leader (3) Labor is an observer in the European Conference of Socialist Parties (4) Formally led for most of Israel's history with numbers greater than Likud 
  • 10. YaHudat HaTorah United Torah Judaism 5 / 120 IDEOLOGIES Torah Halacha (Jewish Law) FOUNDED 1992 LEADER Yaakov Litzman Moshe Gafni Platform: (1) Coalition of Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox parties representing the Hassidic and Lithuanian sects (2) Non-Zionist but would like to see laws see laws strengthen Judaism in Israel (3) Can sit with any of the major parties regarding security issues, but more comfortable with the right as much of its constituency is hawkish (4) Advocates on behalf of their constituency regarding government budgets and social services (5) Opposes negotiations with the Palestinians and the formation of a Palestinian state; supports increasing settlements in the Palestinian territories (6) Wants to maintain the status quo in regard to religion and state issue Notes: The most important thing about United Torah Judaism is that are not   Zionist , and not all of their constituents accept a secular government.
  • 11. Ha'Atzma'aut Independence 5 / 120 IDEOLOGIES Centrism Zionism FOUNDED 2011 Ehud Barak LEADER Ehud Barak Background: Independence   is not a "real" party.  It is composed of  Ehud Barak, and four other Labor ministers, who left the Labor party. After the settlement freeze expired and the peace talks hit a standstill in late 2010, the Labor party threatened to either leave the coalition, or sack Ehud Barak as leader due to his lack of leadership on pressuring Benjamin Netanyahu. Most of the Labor members left the coalition, Barak and the other four more right-leaning members created a new party to maintain their positions in the government. Notes: While criticized by the Israeli left for his "betrayal", Ehud Barak has criticized Netanyahu and the coalition for not making enough compromises for peace, and supports apologizing to Turkey.
  • 12. Halhud HaLeumi National Union 4 / 120 IDEOLOGIES Religious Zionism Land of Israel Nationalism Conservatism FOUNDED 1999 LEADER Ya'akov Katz Slogans: (1) Not Afraid At All Platform: (1) Greater Land of Israel (2) Coalition of ultra religious Zionist parties and the secular ultra nationalist HaTikva party (3) Against   any withdrawals from any territory (4) Against the creation of a Palestinian state Notes: (1) Has some ties to banned "Kach" party, which had associations with Jewish terrorists and extreme anti-Arab racism. (2) Some party members have adopted the "Jordan is Palestine" solution to the Palestine question (3) The most hard-line party when it comes to land
  • 13. al-Qā'ima al-'Arabiya United Arab List 4 / 120 IDEOLOGIES Israeli-Arab Interest Islamism FOUNDED 1996 LEADER Ibrahim Sarsour Platform: (1) Union of three Israeli Arab parties (2) Israel should become a state of all it's inhabitants and not have overtly Jewish character (3) Arabs should be recognized as a national minority and be awarded rights accordingly (4) Full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem (5) Establishment of Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the capital (6) Right of return for Palestinian refugees of 1948 Notes: (1) Constituency is primarily either religious or nationalistic Arabs, with 80% popularity among Bedouin in 2009. (2) Operates the Islamic Movement of Israel
  • 14. Hadash Democratic Front for Peace and Equality 4 / 120 IDEOLOGIES Communism Socialist Israeli-Arab Arab-Jewish Partner FOUNDED 1977 LEADER Mohammad Barakeh Slogans: (1) Building a New Left Platform: (1) Non-Zionist and Communist ideology (2) Improving status of disadvantaged Israelis (3) Formation of a democratic and secular constitution (4) Improving rights for Israeli Arabs and women (5) Supports Israel as a state for all its citizens rather than a "Jewish State" (6) Supports formation of a Palestinian State (7) Supports (to varying degrees) the Palestinian refugees of 1948 to return or be compensated Notes: (1) Coalition party including the Black Panthers (2) While historically non-Zionist (Marxist, not Nationalist) it has shifted according to some to a more Arab Separatist/Nationalist agenda (3) Uri Averny is a famous Israeli peacenik and Hadash member
  • 15. MERETZ New Movement 3 / 120 IDEOLOGIES Social Democracy Labor Zionism Green Politics Peace Activism FOUNDED 1992 Shulamit Aloni LEADER Haim Oron Slogans: (1) Doing what is good for Israel Platform: (1) Left-wing social democratic secular party (2) Supports a   just and   comprehensive  peace between Israel and its neighbors (3) Supports direct negotiations with the Palestinians; concedes that direct negotiations with Hamas is ill-advised at this time (4) Favors dismantling and an almost full withdrawal from West Bank, with land swap for the remainder (5) Supports state recognition of non-Orthodox conversations and acceptance of descent as source of Jewishness (6) Human, civil rights, and social justice agenda (7) Ecology and safe environment/green agenda Notes: (1) One of the parties most responsible for the Oslo Accords (strongest partner of Labor) (2) Had the first openly gay Knesset member (3) Lost much support to Kadima in recent years
  • 16. Brit Le'umit Demokratit Balad 3 / 120 IDEOLOGIES Arab Nationalism Democratic Socialism Anti-Zionism FOUNDED 1995 Amzi Bishari LEADER Jamal Zahlaka Platform: (1) Israeli-Arab Party (2) Israel should be a democratic state of all its citizens (3) Supports right of return for Arab refugees from the 1948 war (4) Full Israeli withdrawal from the territories (5) Creation of a Palestinian state Notes: (1) Balad was disqualified in 2009 from the Israeli general elections for calling for armed conflict against Israel. This was overturned by the supreme court. (2) Balad hosts some of the most  controversial  members, including Haneen Zoabi, who has argued that Iran   should acquire nuclear weapons to counter-balance Israel
    • Some interesting notes or points not covered:
    • (1) If you add up the percentages of all the Israeli-Arab parties, you'll see it doesn't even hit 10% (where-as it should be closer to 20% looking at demographics).  Many  Israeli-Arabs either don't vote (they are against "the system") or support/have supported Zionist parties, including Kadima, Labor, and Likud.  These Zionist parties have had/do have Arab representatives in the Knesset.
    • (2) Other than the ultra-Nationalist and ultra-Religious parties, none of the parties (even the Arab ones) argue for any form of a "One-State solution".
  • 18. ISRAEL  - PEACE PROCESS GOV'TS Camp David (1979)
  • 19. ISRAEL  - PEACE PROCESS GOV'TS Oslo Accords (1993) * Shas would leave the government once Oslo started in 1993, and the coalition was joined by a new breakaway party of 3 MKs. ** Hadash and the Arab Democratic Party announced support for the gov't, all though they were not coalition members.
  • 20. ISRAEL  - PEACE PROCESS GOV'TS Camp David (2000) * The elections were held at a time when negotiations with the Palestinians were going badly. Although the Wye River Memorandum had passed the Knesset, it had alienated both the left (who claimed the peace process was moving too slowly) and the right, who were unhappy with territorial concessions ** One Israel was a coalition party primarily made of Labor
  • 21. ISRAEL  - PEACE PROCESS GOV'TS Gaza & Annapolis (2005 - 2009) * Likud fell to a historical low of  12  seats (-26 from late 2005) ** Yisrael Beinenu briefly joined the government after the Lebanon war, but left in protest after Olmert began peace talks with the Palestinians
    • The Palestinian governance structure and breakup is even  more  complicated than the Israelis, if such is possible. There is the following governing bodies:
    • PLO  (Palestine Liberation Organization)
    • "Sole legitimate representative" of the Palestinians, enjoys observer status at the United Nations. This is like the (former)  Jewish Agency .
    •  PLC  (Palestinian Legislative Council)
    • The legislature/parliament of the PNA . This is like Congress/the   Knesset .
    • PNA  (Palestinian National Authority)
    • The authoritative body, created by the Oslo Accords, to govern limited parts of the Palestinian territories and to eventually become the Palestinian government in a state. This is formed  Government .
    • And there are numerous other factions and sub-factions that are not represented by either and oppose either or all of these bodies.
    • The Palestinian Government is primarily dominated by the secular Fatah party and the Islamist Hamas party, with small amounts of seats going to various socialist, communist, and centrist parties.
    The results of the PNA 2006 elections was a victory for Hamas, but was not internationally recognized, and was rejected by the PLO and Fatah.
      • Fatah
      • Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
      • Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP)
      • Hamas*
      • Islamic Jihad**
      • Third Way*
    * Hamas and Third Way ran for the PNA, but are not members of the PLO ** Islamic Jihad additionally did not run for the PNA
    • HAMAS
    • Claims Ismail Haniyeh as Prime Minister (Currently operating as PM of Gaza)
    • Claims Aziz Duwaik as President (Currently highest ranking Hamas official in the West Bank)
    • FATAH
    • Claims  Salam Fayyad as Prime Minister (Operating as PM of West Bank)
    • Claims  Mahmoud Abbas  as President (Operating as President of West Bank and Chair of the PLO)
    The results of the 2006 Palestinian National Authority results are disputed. Officially, under EU observer status, Hamas one a majority of seats. This was rejected by Fatah and much of the Palestinian western backers. As of 2011, technically speaking neither Fatah or Hamas have legal legitimacy.
  • 26. 45 / 132 IDEOLOGIES Nationalism Democratic Socialism Social Democracy FOUNDED 1959 Yasser Arafat LEADER Mahmoud Abbas FATAH Palestinian National Liberation Movement Platform: (1) More nationalist than socialist (2) Recognizes Israel and denounces violence (3) Supports a negotiated two-state solution from the conflict, and a full withdrawal from the Occupied Territories (4) Full "right of return" of the Palestinian refugees from 1948 to their homes or compensation  Standing: (1) Not considered to be a terrorist organization by any  government , including the US and Israel (2) Disolved Force 17 (Arafat's Elite) into the Palestinian Presidential Guard (3) Disolved some of the Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades into the Palestinian Security Forces
  • 27. 3 / 132 IDEOLOGIES Anti-Zionism Communism Nationalism FOUNDED 1967 George Habash LEADER Ahmed Sa'adat PFLP Popular Front for the  Liberation of Palestine Platform: (1) Far-left Marxism-Leninism (2) Hard-line party in regards to Palestinian national aspirations, opposing moderate stance of Fatah (3) Opposes any negotiations or recognition of the Israeli government (4) Favors a "One Arab  State" solution, where Jews were entitled to live as a minority (5) Recognized the Oslo Accords until 2010  Standing: (1) Considered a terrorist organization by more than 30 countries (including the US, European Union, Australia, and Canada) (2) Consistently the second-largest group in the PLO (the largest being Fatah) (3) Currently the PFLP is boycotting participation in the Executive Committee of the PLO Notes: (1) Well known for a series of armed hijackings in the late 60's and early 70's, and some major suicide bombings during the second Intifada
  • 28. 2 / 132 IDEOLOGIES Communism FOUNDED 1967 George Habash LEADER Ahmed Sa'adat DFLP Democratic Front for the  Liberation of Palestine Platform: (1) Left-Wing Marxism-Leninism (2) A  people's democratic (bi-national) Palestine, where Arab and Jews would live without discrimination, and without classes (3) Originally called for a "revolution of the masses", but more recently adopted a more moderate standpoint while preserving a hard-line attitude to the armed struggle (4) Objects to, but respects, the Oslo Accords  Standing: (1) Leadership in stationed in Damascus, Syria, and is active in the Palestinian refugee camps (2) Dropped designation as a terrorist organization in 1999, all-though they committed some shootings, primarily during the second Intifada Notes: (1) Well known for the Ma'alot massacre, where 105 elementary school children were taken hostage, and 22 executed in 1974
  • 29. 74 / 132 IDEOLOGIES Sunni Islamism Islamic Fundamentalism Religious Nationalism FOUNDED 1987 Mahmoud Zahar Sheikh Ahmed Yassin LEADER Khaled Mashaal HAMAS Islamic Resistance Movement Platform: (1) Liberation of Palestine and the establishment of an Islamic state by means of armed struggle (2)   Has mixed responses to a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, with some absolutely denying it and others allowing it in the context of a complete withdrawal and full right of return (3) 2006 Legislative Program: “The question of recognizing Israel is not the jurisdiction of one faction, nor the government, but a decision for the Palestinian people"  Standing: (1) Recognized as a terrorist organization by the European Union, the United States, Canada, Israel, and Japan (2) Sometimes recognized as  anti-Semitic,  including anti-Jewish imagery/statements. Notes: (1) Hamas is regarded as the most responsible for the violent waves of attacks, including suicide bombings, during the second Intifada
  • 30. Does NOT recognize the PLC IDEOLOGIES Pan-Islamism Islamic Fundamentalism Anti-Zionism FOUNDED 1970s Ramadan Shallah LEADER Ramadan Shallah ISLAMIC JIHAD Palestinian Islamic Jihad Platform: (1) Armed struggle leading to the destruction of Israel and it's replacement with a Palestinian Islamic state  (2) Opposes any state, including Arab or Muslim ones, that recognize or are willing to negotiate with Israel, and threatens violence (3) Opposes any form of secular government  Standing: (1) Recognized as a terrorist organization by the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, Israel, and Japan (2) Is  not  a political faction and does not run or represent itself in the PLO or PLC or recognize either's legitimacy. (3) Has carried out attacks in Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan Notes: (1) Has cooperated with  Hamas  to plan and target Israelis will suicide bombings and other actions
  • 31. PALESTINE - Other Factions & Groups
    • Third Way - A centrist/secular and nationalist party established by Salam Fayyad and Hanan Ashwari in 2005. It won 2 of the PLC's 132 seats in 2006.
    • Palestinian National Initiative  - A centrist/secular and nationalist party that opposes Fatah for being corrupt and undemocratic, and Hamas for being extremist and fundamentalist, established by Mustafa Barghouti . It won 2 of the PLC's 132 seats in 2006. Historically supported by Edward Said
    • There are an unofficial group of  Salafists  (some reports up to 15000) in Gaza who sometimes directly challenge Hamas' rule, and oppose any moderation of Hamas towards Islamic law and peace, even cease fires, with Israel. They are currently not officially represented in any political party or faction.