Israeli Political Parties

    Here is a look at the main Israeli political parties that will contest an early parliamentary election in January or February next year. The parties will compete for 120 seats in Israel's single-chamber national assembly, called the Knesset. The seats will be allocated by proportional representation to party lists that win a minimum of two percent of the national vote.

    LIKUD (The Consolidation)
    * Nationalist, conservative party of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    * It holds 27 seats in Israel's outgoing 66-seat ruling coalition of nationalist, centrist and religious parties
    * Polls indicate it is likely to maintain its strength and become the largest party in the next Knesset
    * Its ruling coalition has largely shielded Israel's economy from the global financial crisis
    * It accepts the idea of a Palestinian state
    * It insists on an Israeli right to develop Jewish settlements on occupied land claimed by Palestinians
    * It refuses to rule out a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear sites if Tehran produces weapons-grade uranium

    * Center-left opposition party led by former journalist Shelly Yachimovich
    * Leaders of the party and its precursors led all governments from Israel's independence in 1948 to 1977
    * It holds only 8 seats in the outgoing Knesset, but polls suggest it will rebound to become the second largest faction
    * It quit Netanyahu's government in 2011
    * It wants to reduce Israel's large economic gaps between rich and poor and create a more 'just' society
    * It takes a more conciliatory approach than Likud toward seeking peace with the Palestinians

    YISRAEL BEITENU (Israel Our Home)
    * Ultranationalist, secular party led by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
    * It is the second largest party in the outgoing government, holding 15 seats
    * It draws much of its support from Israeli immigrants from the former Soviet Union
    * It often has taken a tougher line than Likud on the stalled peace process with the Palestinians

    SHAS (Sfarad's Guards of the Torah)
    * Ultra-Orthodox religious party founded by Sephardi Jews of Middle Eastern origin
    * It holds 11 seats in the outgoing Likud-led government
    * It seeks to devote more public funds to the social welfare needs of observant Sephardi Jews
    * Its supporters tend to be hawkish on security issues

    YESH ATID (There is a Future)
    * New centrist, secular party established this year by Yair Lapid, a popular TV personality
    * It advocates changing Israel's political system of often short-lived, fractious coalition governments
    * Polls indicate it will win at least several seats in the Knesset

    KADIMA (Forward)
    * Centrist opposition party led by Shaul Mofaz, former military chief of staff
    * It is the largest party in the outgoing Knesset, with 28 seats, and leads the opposition
    * It joined the ruling coalition in May this year, but pulled out in July
    * Mofaz quit in protest at Netanyahu's refusal to support a proposed law requiring ultra-Orthodox Jews to perform military service
    * Mofaz advocates creating a Palestinian state through land swaps, ceding Israeli territory in return for annexing Jewish settlements
    * Mofaz accuses Netanyahu of trying to lead Israel toward an irresponsible, unilateral war with Iran
    * Polls suggest the party will fare poorly in the next election due to Mofaz's reputation for changing positions

    ATZMAUT (Independence)
    * Center-left party founded by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak
    * Its members split from Labor in 2011 and joined Netanyahu's government as a separate faction with 5 seats
    * Barak, a former prime minister, has been a close ally of Netanyahu
    * Barak-Netanyahu relationship has become strained due to recent differences in how to seek U.S. support for Israel's Iran strategy

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora