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The Israeli Elections: from Communists to Cab Drivers, Array of Choices Awaits Voters

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A total of 25 political parties have been approved by the Central Elections Committee to run in Israel’s June 23 elections for the 13th Knesset.

Each of these parties is designated by a code of one or more letters of the Hebrew alphabet. When voters go to the polls next week, they will pick the voting slip marked with the party of their choice, insert it into an envelope and then put the envelope into the ballot box.

Following is a brief description of each party running, listed in alphabetical order of their code letters:

LABOR UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF YITZHAK RABIN (Aleph Mem Tav): Currently Israel’s chief opposition party, Labor requested that the party leader’s name be listed on the ballot.

NATIONAL RELIGIOUS PARTY (Bet): Known in Hebrew by the acronym Mafdal, this party represents Israel’s centrist Orthodox establishment.

UNITED TORAH JUDAISM PARTY (Gimmel): This list is an amalgam of two rival Orthodox parties in the outgoing Knesset, Agudat Yisrael and Degel HaTorah, plus Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz, the minister of absorption, who broke away from the third ultra-Orthodox party, Shas, in 1990 and has sat for the past two years as an independent.

NATIONAL MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRACY AND ALIYAH (Dalet): This is a new immigrant party headed by former prisoner of Zion Yuli Kosharovsky.

PIKANTI (Dalet Peh-Sofit): This is a new and maverick party headed by sausage and salad manufacturer Moshe Badash. Badash is a nationally known figure due to his bitter battles against the income tax authorities and also because of the high-profile advertising of his food products in the media. He ran in the Likud primaries, was elected to an unrealistic slot and thereupon decided to form his own ticket.

DEMOCRATIC FRONT FOR PEACE AND EQUALITY (Vav): Otherwise known by the Hebrew acronym Hadash, this is the veteran Israeli Communist Party, made up chiefly of Arabs.

TZIPPOR (Zayyin Nun): The party’s name means “bird” in Hebrew. It is a new list made up of naturalists whose platform is less than clear.

MOLEDET (Tet): This is the rightist party led by former army Gen. Rehavam Ze’evi, a minister without portfolio between 1990 and 1992 whose banner is the “transfer” of the Arabs from the administered territories to the surrounding Arab states.

HATIKVAH (Yod Dalet): This is a new dovish list focusing on social issues, led by veteran Knesset member Charlie Biton, who most recently sat in the legislature as an independent, with Orthodox feminist activist Leah Shakdiel of Yeroham in the No. 2 slot.

THE TORAH AND THE LAND (Yod Zayyin): This new party, formed only last month, is headed by veteran settlement leader Rabbi Moshe Levinger of Kiryat Arba.

THE LAW OF NATURE PARTY (Yod Mem): A new list, still to disclose its particular message.

TALI, THE MOVEMENT FOR ISRAELI RENEWAL (Kaf Yod): Also new and with a vague, change-oriented message.

THE LIKUD (Mem Het Lamed): Israel’s governing party, headed by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.

MERETZ, DEMOCRATIC ISRAEL (Mem Resh Tzaddi): This list amalgamates the Citizens Rights Movement (Ratz), Mapam and Shinui, three parties which all sat in the outgoing Knesset. The acrostic MeReTz means “energy” in Hebrew.

ON WHEELS (Nun): This is a new taxi-drivers party.

THE MOVEMENT OF MORTGAGE SUFFERERS, HOMELESS AND ARMY VETERANS (Nun Dalet): A new grouping.

THE WOMEN’S PARTY (Nun Kaf): A new list headed by noted women’s activist Ruth Resnick, who broke from Meretz after failing to be elected to a realistic slot on that list.

THE ARAB DEMOCRATIC PARTY (Ayin): This party holds one seat in the current Knesset, held by Abdel Wahab Darousha, who started his national political career in the Labor Party.

THE PROGRESSIVE LIST FOR PEACE (Peh): A nominally Arab-Jewish party led by Darousha’s rival, Mohammed Miari.

TSOMET (Tzaddi-Sofit): Rafael Eitan’s rightist party, which draws significant support from hard-line moshav members and even kibbutzniks. YAD B’YAD, THE PARTY OF PENSIONERS, IMMIGRANTS AND SENIOR CITIZENS (Kuf): Led by former diplomat Abba Geffen, this is an amalgam of a former pensioners movement, which narrowly failed to win a Knesset seat in the November 1988 elections, and a group of Soviet immigrant activists.

GEULAT YISRAEL (Kuf Lamed): A new ultra-Orthodox list headed by Eliezer Mizrachi, who was elected to the 12th Knesset on the Agudat Yisrael ticket, broke from that party in 1990 and has since sat as an independent.

THE NEW LIBERAL PARTY (Kuf Nun-Sofit): Another new party, headed by Finance Minister Yitzhak Modai with Herzliya Mayor Eli Landau in the No. 2 spot. Both men are Likud members who have broken with their former party. The party stresses economic issues in its platform and calls for a plebiscite on the land-for-peace issue.

SHAS (Shin Samech): The Sephardic Orthodox party led by Interior Minister Arye Deri.

TEHIYA (Tav): A rightist party led by Professor Yuval Ne’eman, who was minister of science and technology from 1990 to 1992.

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