Matzpen’s front page, May 1977


[This article is written two weeks before the election date]

This short article is intended as a guide for the “offerings” of the different parties contending the Israeli elections for the Knesset, on 2nd November, 1988. This election has been billed as the “most important in Israel’s history” by a whole number of pundits, arguing that the resulting government will be the one to face the new challenges, internal and external.

It may be useful to enumerate the main challenges as they are perceived in Israel, before coming to the actual detail of the manifestoes. These are:

The Intifada ‒ This is obviously the most serious challenge to Israeli rule over the occupied territories and to Israel’s continued and unconditional opposition to any real form of Palestinian self-determination. It is interesting to note that only the smaller parties on left and right of the ruling Likud/Labour coalition, have referred to the Intifada by name, while the others refer to “disturbunces”, “riots”, “events” and use a range of euphemisms in preference to the word Intifada, though this word is now used widely within Israel, in a variety of contexts. The challenge presented by the Intifada, includes a new sense of togetherness and common struggle, shared by Palestinians on both sides of the green line. This identification of “Israeli Arabs”, as the Palestinian citizens of Israel are commonly referred to, with their brothers and sisters across the cease fire lines, has posed new problems for Zionist politicians of left and right. The rising financial cost of the management of the Intifada, together with the morale-eroding effects evident in many facets of Israeli life, are important pressures leaving their mark on a nation tired by conflict.

The USA elections ‒ Whoever is likely to be elected, and at the moment of writing it seems that the Republican candidate has the upper hand, is more likely to demand some meaningful move towards stabilisation of the Middle East situation. This may happen as a result of two very different pressures, the first being the general thaw now evident between the superpowers, the second being the sheer cost of the Israeli military machine to the American taxpayer. The lowering of tension now practiced by both superpowers since the Gorbachev initiative started, will require some accommodation in the Middle East, on lines more or less acceptable to the USSR. In Israel, this has been realised some while ago, and negotiations with the Soviet Union have started, leading the way to a resumption of diplomatic ties and an official role for USSR in any future peace negotiations.

The PLO/PNC de facto recognition of Israel and the proclamation of a Government in Exile ‒ This development, which was not yet followed by a serious split in the Palestinian camp, has come on the heels of King Hussein’s announcement about the severing of links with the West Bank, thus opening the way for a Palestinian state to be based on the West Bank and Gaza. While Hussein’s withdrawal from the scene as the negotiator acceptable to Israel is mainly a problem for Labour, as their whole policy is pegged on the “Jordanian Option”, now non-existent, the PLO/PNC declaration, expected at the time of writing, is a challenge for Zionist left and right alike.

These factors should be seen in the political context of a continued supremacy of the right and ultra-right, controlling the state machinery with confidence unflagged by reality. Both main parties have stuck to a formula combining the refusal to talk with the PLO, to a refusal to leave the occupied territories. While the Likud would not countenance any concessions, Labour is prepared to offer some minor concessions by demilitarising the area and leaving some of the territory under local control, both reject totally the concept of a Palestinian state as unacceptable. The supremacy of racist, neo-colonialist tendencies will be evident from the number and nature of new parties emerging on the Right, proposing radical “solutions” such as a population “transfer” to the Palestinian problem. This is hardly mirrored by developments on the left, where no new parties of note have emerged, and no new strategies are proposed.

Each of the parties’ manifesto is examined here around a number of focal points. These are:

Intifada ‒ how is it related to, what is proposed as a solution.

Peace plans and negotiations with PLO ‒ what are the plans (if any) and who is seen as a partner for talks.

Israel as a Jewish state ‒ position on this issue and suggestions on related points, such as the Law of Return.

A Palestinian State ‒ is it an acceptable concept, where and how should it be established ?

The “lsraeli Arabs” ‒ policies relating to Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.

Zionist positioning ‒ the relationship to main-stream Zionist ideology within the manifesto.

Relationship between the Church and State ‒ does the manifesto suggest a seperation of these, a close relationship, or a theocratic state?

The space allowed for each of the manifestoes here, is a reflection of complexity or otherwise of the programme of the relevant party.

The Labour Party

Intifada ‒ This word is not used; the words used are riots and the difficult reality in the territories; the manifesto offers full support to the IDF and the security forces in their attempt to face the above-mentioned “reality”. The party offers full support to the policies of the Minister of Defence, Rabin (named in the document) who is trying to “restore law and order, end the violence and the various attempts to disrupt the normal life in Israel and the territories”. Israel under labour will “reinforce Jewish settlement in the vital security and settlement zones, while stopping the continuation of settlement in Palestinian-dominated urban and rural areas, cutting the funds for such settlements. Certain authority to be given to the local authorities in Arab inhabited areas”.

Peace plans and negotiations with PLO ‒ No to any negotiations with the PLO or “any other organisation rejecting the right of Israel to exist, the national entity of the Jewish people, or acting through terror methods”. Such organisation cannot be a partner to peace talks. Israel will be ready to talk to “authorised representatives of Judea, Samaria and Gaza” and Jordan, but will be prepared to talk to them even if Jordan is not partaking in the talks. In order to arrive at a solution, the party is prepared to meet the joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation at an international peace conference, one without any specific powers or authority to force a solution on the negotiating parties. In the meantime, Israel will not make the Israeli law the legal system in the territories, will continue with an “open bridges” policy and will encourage economic developments in the territories.

Israel as a Jewish state ‒ A reaffirmation of the principle and the legislation based on this ‘principle’) that Israel is the “state of the Jewish people”. Status quo on religious issues, and opposition to any changes in the “who is a Jew” legislation, relevant to the Law of Return. Religion (Jewish) is ~ot a matter for political parties, and rabbis and religious functionaries should avoid political involement.

A Palestinian State ‒ No to a seperate Palestinian state. Such a state will “not resolve the conflict, but will become a focus for hostility. Israel will be prepared to leave “densely­populated Palestinian areas” after a peace agreement, but will remain in most of the territory, defined as ‘security zones’. “A Jewish majority in most of the Territories, is preferable to the loss of all the territories and the Jewish majority overall”

The “Israeli Arabs” ‒ The concept of Israeli Arab does not include the Beduin, Druze or Circasian communities. The party supports closer links with the Israeli Arabs, admitting that in all areas of social activity there is discrimination against this group. The party will try to improve the lot of the Israeli Arabs.

Zionist positioning ‒ Normative

Relationship between the Church and State ‒ Wishes to preserve the status quo; is against “religious and anti-religious” control and opression. The Jewish Torah is the spiritual, existential and cultural basis and the source for identity of the Jewish people and of all human moral values. This will be respected and supported. The party will support an enhancement of these values within the educational system.


Matzpen’s demonstration in front of the Labour party offices in Tel Aviv, reminding the party’s role in the settlement project in Hebron and its cooperation with the Likud and Gush Emunim in the oppression of the city’s Palestinian residents (April 1981)


The Likud Party

Intifada ‒ There is no reference to the Intifada.

Peace plane and negotiations with PLO ‒ No; the PLO is not named and is referred to as “terrorist and murderous organisation”. Israel will continue to work towards “Autonomy” for the Palestinians in the territories ‒ this Autonomy is not a state, sovereignty or self-determination. 

Israel as a Jewish state ‒ The right of the Jewish people to the “Land of Israel” is “inalienable and eternal and is part and parcel of the right to security and peace”.

A Palestinian State ‒ Under no condition whatsoever. The Arab nation is demonstrating its self-determination by the existence of 21 Arab states.

The “Israeli Arabs” ‒ No reference.

Zionist positioning ‒ Normative.

Relationship between the Church and State ‒ No reference.

Ratz ‒ The Movement for Civil Rights and Peace

Intifada ‒ The Intifada is the uprising of a nation struggling for its rights and freedom, and cannot be broken by force.

Peace plans and negotiations with PLO ‒ Call for the PLO to accept the right of Israel to exist, so that it can take part in peace negotiations, as the representative Palestinian nation, suspending all hostilities.

Israel as a Jewish state ‒ No reference.

A Palestinian State ‒ Up to the Palestinians to decide on this.

The “Israeli Arabs” ‒ No reference.

Zionist positioning ‒ No reference.

Relationship between the Church and State ‒ No reference.

Mapam ­‒ United Workers Party

Intifada ‒ No reference.

Peace plans and negotiations with PLO ‒ Ready to talk to “authorised representatives” of the Palestinians, including PLO. The “land of Israel” is the common homeland for the returning Jewish people, and the Palestinian people living there. After leaving some territories, as a result of peace agreements, the Palestinians will be responsible for preventing any terror acts originating in the West Bank. No army will cross the Jordan river (into the West Bank).

Israel as a Jewish state ‒ Mapam sees the Jewish tradition as a source of inspiration rather than a foundation of authority.

A Palestinian State ‒ The party suggests the self-determination for the Palestinians will be satisfied by a confederative structure with Jordan.

The “Israeli Arabs” ‒ Struggle is necessary in order to guarantee “true equality to the Arab minority”.

Zionist positioning ‒ No detailed or meaningful reference.

Relationship between the Church and State ‒ Israel is a law state rather than a theocracy. Freedom for all from religious or anti-religious oppression.

The Progressive List

Intifada ‒ The Palestinian people in the Occupied Territories have a right to fight for freedom and resist the occupation.

Peace plans and negotiations with PLO ‒ Immediate withrawal from the Occupied Territories and Lebanon. Negotiations between Israel and PLO, as the legitimate representative of the Palestinians.

Israel as a Jewish state ‒ No, separation of church and state.

A Palestinian State ‒ Yes, beside Israel.

The “Israeli Arabs” ‒ A democratic constitution to guarantee the rights of the Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Zionist positioning ‒ Non zionist.

Relationship between the Church and State ‒ Total seperation.

HADASH ‒ Deaocratic Front for Peace and Equality (Communist party)

Intifada ‒ The justified uprising of the Palestinians against the continued occupation.

Peace plans and negotiations with PLO ‒ Yes, for direct negotiations between Israel and the PLO as the “sole, legitimate representative” of the Palestinians.

Israel as a Jewish state ‒ No reference.

A Palestinian State ‒ Yes, beside Israel, in the occupied  territories.

The “Israeli Arabs” ‒ Hadash is the only party which offers a wide-ranging analysis of the level of discrimination directed at the Palestinian citizens of Israel, and offers a wide range of issues and campaigns, directed at eradicating this basic inequality.

Zionist positioning ‒ Non Zionist.

Relationship between the Church and State ‒ Seperation of the church from the State.

Shinui ‒ The Centre Party

Intifada ‒ No reference.

Peace plans and negotiations with PLO ‒ No third state between Israel and Jordan. Negotiations will be open to all organisations that will repudiate terror, no reference to the PLO.

Israel as a Jewish state ‒ Normative, supportive towards deepening of Jewish education.

A Palestinian State ‒ No.

The “Israeli Arabs” ‒ Suggests that until a solution is found, they are almost full citizens, but not quite.

Zionist positioning ‒ Normative.

Relationship between the Church and State ‒ Argues for greater seperation between the two, than currently exists.


Matzpen’s participants in the demonstration against the founding conference of HaTehiya (Revival) party in Jerusalem, October 1979: “The Tehiya party is the Death party”


Tehi’ya [revival]

Intifada – Is a result of the confusion and ineptness of the government. Should and can be totally broken. The reaction should be the increasing of settlements, and expelling Palestinians who take part into other Arab countries.

Peace plans and negotiations with PLO ‒ No. Not one inch to be returned. Any peace agreement will have to include the transfer of the Palestinian population to the Arab countries.

Israel as a Jewish state ‒ Normative.

A Palestinian State ‒ No, never.

The “Israeli Arabs” – In the light of the Intifada, their rights should be reviewed. Those who are loyal will face all rights and duties; those who are not loyal will lose their citizenship and will be deported. All Arab citizens will serve in the IDF for three years ‒ only this will allow them to vote or be elected for Parliament.

Zionist positioning ‒ Extreme. Special accent on immigration [of Jews] and its importance for strengthening the Jewish position.

Relationship between the Church and State ‒ Status quo.


Intifada ‒ Break the Intifada with more force, deportation, collective punishment, destruction of villages and houses, curfew.

Peace plans and negotiations with PLO ‒ No. The main plank is a programme for the “agreed” total transfer of the Palestinians into another Arab country.

Israel as a Jewish state ‒ Normative.

A Palestinian State ‒ No, never.

The “Israeli Arabs” ‒ The loyal ones will be allowed to stay, all others will be forced to leave.

Zionist positioning ‒ Extreme.

Relationship between the Church and State ‒ No reference.


Intifada ‒ Break the Intifada with much harsher measures; everyone throwing stones will be permanently deported.

Peace plans and negotiations with PLO ‒ No, never. All Palestinians living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are citizens of Jordan.

Israel as a Jewish state ‒ Normative.

A Palestinian State ‒ No, never.

The “Israeli Arabs” ‒ This group should realise that their continued habitation of their villages is conditioned on their loyalty. Any doubts raised about their loyalty, will cause the total deportation of this community.

Zionist positioning ‒ Extreme.

Relationship between the Church and State ‒ No reference.