Political Parties as of 2013
> Likud – is a a Hebrew word meaning “consolidation”. It is also Israel’s major conservative party. Its leaders tend to support Israeli settlements and reject proposals to divide Jerusalem. Like its political rivals, Likud seeks peace agreements with Israel’s neighbors, conditioned on reciprocal efforts to stop terrorist activities within Israel’s borders. The party also advocates a pro-capitalist, free-market economy. Likud is the head of the current coalition government, and its party leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, is the current Prime Minister of Israel.
> Yesh Atid – “There is a Future” is a centrist Israeli political party founded by former journalist Yair Lapid in 2012. Running for the parliament election in 2013, Yesh Atid placed second. According to the party's platform, the primary goals of the party are: changing the priorities in Israel, with an emphasis on civil life, education, housing, health, transport and policing, as well as improving the condition of the middle class, changing the system of government, equality in education, all Israeli school students must be taught essential classes, all Israelis will be drafted into the Army and all Israeli citizens will be encouraged to seek work, including the ultra-Orthodox sector and the Arab sector.
> Avoda – “Labor” is the center-left party has been one of Israel's two dominant blocs (along with Likud and its predecessors) since the founding of the state in 1948. Labor leaders tend to support negotiating with Palestinians and dismantling most Israeli settlements in the West Bank in exchange for peace. The Labor platform emphasizes liberal social and economic policies and a strong defense.
> Habayit Hayeudi – “The Jewish Home” is a religious Zionist political party in Israel. Its political views have been described as far-right and right-wing. It was originally formed by a merger of the National Religious Party, Moledet and Tkuma in November 2008. For the 19th Knesset Elections, The Jewish Home and Tkuma parties merged their lists under the leadership of the chairman of The Jewish Home, Naftali Bennett, while the other National Union members formed the Otzma LeYisrael party.
> Shas – An acronym for ‘Sephardic Guardians of the Torah,’ represents primarily ultra-Orthodox Jews who immigrated to Israel from other Middle Eastern countries and North Africa. Shas has a socially conservative agenda, while also supporting generous welfare payments, especially for students of religious seminaries. Its policy toward Palestinian Arabs has been relatively flexible. Shas often holds the balance of power among the major parliamentary blocs, enabling it to maximize its influence.
> Hatnua – “The Movement” is a center-liberal political party in Israel headed by Tzipi Livni. The party was formed by dissidents in Kadima, a party which Livni had led until March 2012 when she lost leadership election to Shaul Mofaz. Relatively similar in ideology to Labor and Yesh Atid, which focused largely on domestic and socio-economic issues in their 2013 campaigns, Hatnua stands out primarily for its aggressive push for a peace settlement with the Palestinians.
> Yahadut HaTorah Hameukhedet – “United Torah Judaism” is an alliance of two small, Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox political parties. It represents the growing ultra-Orthodox community. It opposes the separation of religion and state, drafting young ultra-Orthodox men into the military and any change in the nation’s laws that prohibit most businesses from opening on Saturdays and holidays. The party has been highly successful in securing financial aid for the ultra-Orthodox community, including government stipends for large families.
> Hadash – is the Hebrew word for ”new” as well as the Hebrew acronym for ‘The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality.’ It is a far-left-wing party with roots in Israel's anti-Zionist Communist Party and defines itself as a “Jewish-Arab party.” The main points of Hadash's platform include an Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 borders; establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel; the separation of religion and state; the full realization of rights for Israel’s Arab citizens; a Palestinian “right of return” to Israeli erritory;encouraging Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and lobbying for workers’rights.
> Ra'am-Ta'al – the Hebrew acronym for ‘United Arab List- Arab Movement for Renewal,’ is the largest Arab party in the Knesset and endorses an end to what it considers the Israeli occupation of the territories. It supports the creation of an independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital. The party calls for dismantling all Israeli settlements, including those in the Golan Heights and along Israel’s border with Lebanon (land it contends belongs to Lebanon).
> Balad – is the Hebrew acronym for ‘National Democratic Assembly’. It was established in 1996, advocating that Israel should not be a Jewish state, but rather a democratic, secular state. The party favors Israel's withdrawal from all remaining Palestinian territories and a two-state solution, in which a non-Jewish state with Arab and Jewish residents exists alongside a Palestinian state. Balad demands that the Israeli government grant Arabs full autonomy in such areas as culture and education.
> Meretz – a Hebrew acronym for ‘Social-Democratic Party,’ is a left-wing alliance that supports a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians based on a two-state solution as outlined in the Geneva Accord. The party is also concerned with human rights issues, minority rights, women’s rights, social justice and environmentalism. New Movement-Meretz is closely associated with Peace Now, a left-wing, non-governmental organization
> Kadima – a Hebrew word meaning “forward,” was formed in 2005 by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as a centrist bloc with a mission of unilaterally disengaging from the Gaza Strip. Sharon suffered a brain hemorrhage on Jan. 4, 2006. Ehud Olmert, Deputy Prime Minister at the time, led the party to election victory in 2006. Under Olmert, Kadima became the largest party in the Knesset, the 120-seat Parliament.