Alignment (Israel)

Alignment

המערך
Historical leadersLevi Eshkol (1965–68, 69)
Golda Meir (1969–74)
Yitzhak Rabin (1974–77)
Shimon Peres (1977–91)
Founded1965 (first Alignment)
1969 (second Alignment)
Dissolved1968 (first Alignment)
1991 (second Alignment)
Merged intoIsraeli Labor Party
IdeologySocial democracy[1]
Labor Zionism
Political positionCentre-left
International affiliationSocialist International
Member partiesMapai, Ahdut HaAvoda and Mapam
Most MKs63 (1969)
Fewest MKs31 (1977–1980)
Election symbol
אמת
Alignment politicians at a 1965 conference

The Alignment (Hebrew: המערך, translit. HaMa'arakh) is the name of two political alliances in Israel. Each of these Alignment parties later merged into what is now the Israeli Labor Party.

The first Alignment was a 1965 alliance of Mapai and Ahdut HaAvoda. The two parties continued to exist independently, but submitted joint electoral lists. Often called the Labor Alignment, the alliance lasted three years until a merger with Rafi in 1968 created the unitary Israeli Labor Party.

The following year the Labor Party formed an alliance with Mapam, adopting the Alignment name. The two constituent parties remained separate, but with combined electoral campaigns and candidate lists. The second version of the Alignment lasted for more than two decades.

At its formation in 1969, the second Alignment had 63 of 120 Knesset seats, the only time a parliamentary group in Israel has ever held a parliamentary majority. Although their majority was lost in the 1969 elections, the 56 seats won by the Alignment remains the highest seat total won in an Israeli election.

First Alignment

The first incarnation of the Alignment, fully named the HaMa'arakh LeAhdut Poalei Eretz Yisrael (Hebrew: המערך לאחדות פועלי ארץ ישראל‎, lit. Alignment for the Unity of the Workers of the Land of Israel), was an alliance of Mapai and Ahdut HaAvoda formed to contest the 1965 Knesset elections. Its formation was in response to the merger of the two major right-wing parties in Israel, Herut and the Liberal Party to form Gahal, and to try to preserve the left's hegemony in Israeli politics.

In the elections, the Alignment won 36.7% of the vote and 45 of the 120 Knesset seats, enough to comfortably beat Gahal, which had only won 26, though not as many as Mapai had won in the 1951 and 1959 legislative elections. The Alignment's leader, Levi Eshkol formed a coalition government with the National Religious Party, Mapam, the Independent Liberals, Poalei Agudat Yisrael and two Israeli Arab parties associated with the Alignment; Progress and Development and Cooperation and Brotherhood.

On 23 January 1968, Mapai and Ahdut HaAvoda merged with Rafi to form the Israeli Labor Party, with the Alignment ceasing to exist. Rafi leader David Ben-Gurion refused to join the Labor Party, and left Rafi before the merger. He formed a new party, the National List.