Israel Table of Contents

In the May 1977 elections, the Labor Party's dominance of Israeli politics ended. The Likud Bloc--an alliance of Begin's Herut Party, the Liberal Party, and other smaller parties formed in the aftermath of the October 1973 War--formed a ruling coalition government for the first time in Israel's history. Likud gained forty-three seats, Labor dropped to thirty-two seats, down by nineteen from the 1973 figure. Likud's supporters consisted of disaffected middle-class elements alienated by the series of scandals, many new immigrants from the Soviet Union, and large numbers of defecting Oriental Jews. Begin appealed to many because he was viewed as incorruptible and untarnished by scandal. He was a strong leader who did not equivocate about his plans for a strong Israel (which he believed included the occupied territories), or about his willingness to stand up to the Arabs or even the superpowers if Israel's needs demanded. Begin also attracted some veteran Labor Zionists for whom his focus on Jewish settlement and self-reliance was reminiscent of an earlier unadulterated Labor Zionism.

Begin's vision of Israel and its role in the region was deeply rooted in the Revisionist platform with which he had been associated since the days of Jabotinsky. He strongly advocated Israeli sovereignty over all of Eretz Yisrael, which in his view included Jerusalem and the West Bank, but not Sinai.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress