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We recommend reading the article about the Irgun to fully understand this article.

The Herut movement was founded in 1948 and succeeded the Irgun organization, the military arm of the Revisionist movement (created by Jabotinsky) during the Yishuv period. It opposed Mapai in its vision for the Land of Israel.

On the occasion of the Declaration of Independence, Etzel commander Menachem Begin stated in a speech that the organization would stop its activities in the newly formed country, and respect its government. Indeed, Etzel soldiers later integrated into the newly formed Israel Defense Forces.

On May 15, 1948, the day after the Declaration of Independence, Menahem Begin created a new movement called Herut ("Freedom").

The party represents the right wing of the political spectrum in Israel, with its core principles being:

  • The integrity of the homeland,

  • The ingathering of the Jewish Diaspora,

  • Social justice,

  • The rule of law,

  • The State borders on both sides of the Jordan River.

Strong importance was also given to foreign affairs and defense. The movement opposed the 1949 armistice agreement and the Sinai withdrawal in 1956.

In foreign relations, Herut advocated a pro-Western and anti-Soviet orientation, and strongly opposed relations with Germany. This opposition culminated in 1952 in violent demonstrations in Jerusalem against the reparations agreement (signed by Moshe Sharett on behalf of the State of Israel).

In the socio-economic field, Herut defined itself as a liberal party and called for:

  • the maintenance of free initiative,

  • individual freedom,

  • the obstruction of any attempt to introduce socialism.

It combined social principles such as freedom of association and labor rights, and principles that take care of the interests of employers and liberal professions to attract voters from the middle class.

During the first two decades of the young country, Ben Gurion considered Herut (along with the Israeli Communist Party), as a non-viable party to form a coalition with.

To challenge Mapai's rule (in power since the '30s), Herut allied with the Israeli Liberal Party in 1965 to form an organization called Gahal.

Gahal: Gush Herut–Libralim:The Herut-Liberal Bloc.

Within Gahal, the two parties continued to function as independent factions within the alliance.

In 1973 the Likud was established as a joint list of several parties and movements, and Herut merged into it through Gahal while remaining an independent entity.

In 1977, a right-wing government was established under the leadership of Menahem Begin and the Likud, as an alternative to Mapai and other worker's parties who led the Yishuv and State's institutions since 1930.

You can hear and see Begin's speech, after the official results, via this YouTube link.

He mentions Jabotinsky's vision, the importance of that historical moment for the Jewish people and Democracy, the journey Etzel and Herut fighters have been through that made this day possible, and the possibility of peace agreements with Jordan and Syria.

On August 25, 1988, the Harut Party and the Israeli Liberal Party were finally united in one party called Likud, the National Liberal Movement.



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