Published 2nd January, 2013
Likud or ‘consolidation’ or ‘unity’ was formed in 1973 under the leadership of Menachem Begin in an alliance with Herut ‘Freedom’ and some smaller parties. It describes itself as a right-wing party and believes in Conservatism, Zionism, Revisionist Zionism and Economic Liberalism.
In its first outing Likud won 39 seats in 1973 and became the second largest party in the Knesset.
In 1984 the party won 43 seats and was the largest party in the 120 seat Knesset. Menachem Begin became prime minister and remained so after the 1981 election when Likud won 48 seats (their highest point) but resigned in 1983 in favour of Yitzhak Shamir.
Shamir led the party and remained prime minister until 1992, with Likud having won 41 seats in 1984 and then 40 seats in 1988. , From 1984 onwards, Likud entered into a ‘rotating premiership’ with the Israel Labour Party (ILP) led by Shimon Peres.
In 1992 the party dropped to 32 seats and went into opposition. During their tenure in government they had signed a peace agreement with Egypt and invaded Lebanon (1982). In 1993 Benjamin Netanyahu was elected leader of Likud and in May 1996 he won direct elections for the premiership.
Likud managed 32 seats in 1996 and Netanyahu was able to form a government with the help of several other parties, but a vote of confidence in the government forced an election in 1999 in which Likud managed just 19 seats and Netanyahu, having been defeated by Ehud Barak, retired (temporarily) from politics.
In 2003 Likud took 38 seats and their leader, Ariel Sharon, was able to form a coalition government, but in 2006 Sharon broke away from the party and formed Kadima. The effect was disastrous for Likud and they dropped to just 12 seats in the 2006 election.
The 2009 election saw their fortunes improve when Likud took 27 of the 120 seats in the Knesset and Benjamin Netanyahu, who was their leader once more, , was able to form a coalition government and became prime minister.