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Israeli Labour Party

David Ben-Gurion 1948-1963
Levi Eshkol 1963-1969
Golda Meir 1969-1974
Yitzhak Rabin 1974-1977
Shimon Peres 1977-1992
Yitzhak Rabin 1992-1995
Shimon Peres 1995-1997
Ehud Barak 1997-2001
Benjamin Ben-Eliezer 2001-2002
Amram Mitzna 2002-2003
Shimon Peres 2003-2005
Amir Peretz 2005-

One of Israel's dominating parties, and one from which several governments have been headed.
Even if the Labour Party was formed 20 years after the state of Israel, it still represents a continuation, through the Mapai party. Mapai was one of 3 parties forming the Israeli Labour Party in 1968, and has its own history going back to 1930. The 2 other parties were Ahdut ha-Avodah, formed in 1919, and Poale Zion formed all the way back in 1905.
Even if it sometimes calls itself "socialist", the Israeli Labour Party has a social-democratic policy. This means that it accepts private ownership, while maintaining government-owned and organization-owned activities in several fields. But Labour wants to reduce the economic involvement of the state.
According to the political platform, the Labour Party indirectly supports the establishment of a Palestinian state, excluding the areas of the Jewish settlements on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and occupied East Jerusalem, and only with limited sovereignty. At the same time, it underlines the importance of a strong Israeli military force in the future.
Mapai, and later the Labour Party, was the organization of some of the most central characters in Israeli politics: David Ben-Gurion, Levi Eshkol, Abba Eban, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres.
The leader of the Labour Party is since November 2005 Amir Peretz, former leader of the party One Nation.

1965: The party Mapai and the coalition of Ahdut ha-Avodah-Poale Zion merges into one unity.
1968: The protest group Radi joins the coalition, even if it had been formed as a protest against the first merger by former prime minister David Ben-Gurion. This coalition gets a new name that has no references to any of the original parties: Mifleget Ha-Avodah Ha-Yisraelit, The Israeli Labour Party.
1969: Labour makes an alliance with the Mapam party, and gains 56 of the 120 seats in the elections for Knesset. The alliance is therefore able to form government.
1973: The alliance gains 51 seats, but is still able to form government.
1977: A new elections gives disaster results with only 32 seats. Likud forms new government.
1981: The alliance comes back, with 15 seats more than 4 years earlier. Still, it is Likud that forms government.
1984: New elections, giving the Labour Party 44 seats. This year Labour forms government together with Likud. Mapam opposed this cooperation, and leaves the alliance with its 6 seats in the Knesset.
1987: Yahad merges with the Labour Party.
1988: Labour (now without Mapam) wins 39 seats in the elections. Labour forms a coalition government together with Likud.
1990 March: Due to disagreements over the strategy in the Middle East peace process, Labour leaves the government.
1992: Labour gains 5 new seats since the last election. This allows the Labour to form government together with Meretz and Shas with Yitzhak Rabin as prime minister.
1996: With a new electoral system, the prime minister is elected directly. Benjamin Netanyahu wins this election, but Labour becomes the largest party in Knesset with 34 seats against Likud's 32.
1999: Labour forms Israel Ahat, One Israel, together with Gesher and Meimad. It gains a modest 26 seats in the Knesset, but still forms a government with Ehud Barak as prime minister.
2002 November: The Labour Party leaves the government of Sharon, officially because Labour did not want to subsidize the settlers (deemed illegal by the world community) in the occupied territories.
2004: One Nation merges with the Labour Party, after long negotiations with party leader Shimon Peres.

By Tore Kjeilen