Yisrael Beiteinu (Hebrew: יִשְׂרָאֵל בֵּיתֵנוּ,
Israel Our Home) is a secularist and right-wing nationalist
political party in Israel. The party's base has traditionally been
secular, Russian-speaking Israelis. The party describes itself as "a
national movement with the clear vision to follow in the bold path of
Zev Jabotinsky", the founder of Revisionist Zionism. It primarily
represents immigrants from the former Soviet Union.[not in
citation given] Although it has attempted to expand its appeal to more
established Israelis, it has not been successful, and most of its
voters are Russian-speaking. It takes a strong line towards the
peace process and the integration of Israeli Arabs, characterized by
its 2009 election slogan "No loyalty, no citizenship". Its main
platform includes a recognition of the two-state solution, the
creation of a Palestinian state that would include an exchange of some
largely Arab-inhabited parts of
Israel for largely Jewish-inhabited
parts of the West Bank. The party maintains an anti-clerical
mantle and encourages socio-economic opportunities for new immigrants,
in conjunction with efforts to increase Jewish immigration. In the
2009 election the party won 15 seats, its most to date, making it the
third largest party in the previous Knesset. In the 2015 election,
the party won six seats.
3.1 Relations with Israeli Arabs and Palestinians
Nakba Day reform
3.2 The Iranian nuclear program
3.3 Government reform
3.3.1 The Norwegian Law
3.4 Relations with Gaza
3.5 Religion and state
3.6 Conversion Bill
3.7 Other policies
5 Allegations of anti-Arabism
8 External links
Avigdor Lieberman, Minister of Defence
Orly Levi, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset
Uzi Landau, Minister of Energy and Water Resources
Yitzhak Aharonovich, Minister of Internal Security
Yisrael Beiteinu was formed by
Avigdor Lieberman to create a platform
for Russian immigrants who support a hard line in negotiations with
the Palestinian Authority. Lieberman's actions were motivated by the
concessions granted by his former boss,
Benjamin Netanyahu (when he
was director-general of the Likud) to the
Palestinian Authority in the
1997 Wye River Memorandum, featuring the division of the West Bank
city of Hebron. One of the partners in Netanyahu's coalition was
Yisrael BaAliyah, a new immigrants' list led by
Natan Sharansky that
also had right-of-center leanings. After Lieberman left Likud, he
registered great disappointment when Sharansky did not pull out of the
coalition, as did two of Sharansky's colleagues in Yisrael BaAliyah,
Michael Nudelman and Yuri Stern, both of whom broke away to form
For the 1999 elections, Lieberman, Nudelman and Stern formed Yisrael
Beiteinu, and the new party won four seats. On 1 February 2000 the
party joined an alliance with the National Union, itself an
alliance of right-wing parties led by Binyamin Elon. In the 2003
elections the joint list won seven seats, with
Yisrael Beiteinu being
given four of them. The alliance joined Ariel Sharon's government and
Lieberman was made Minister of Transport. However, the party left the
government on 6 June 2004, in response to the disengagement plan.
On 1 February 2006, shortly before the elections that year, the party
split from National Union in order to run alone in the elections.
The election results saw the party increase in strength to eleven
seats. Although it remained outside Ehud Olmert's government formed in
May 2006, it joined the coalition in October 2006. The party was
involved in a controversy in January 2007 after Labor Party leader
Amir Peretz nominated
Raleb Majadele for the position of Minister of
Science and Technology, thereby making him Israel's first Muslim Arab
minister. Lieberman condemned the nomination and called for
Peretz's resignation, accusing him of harming Israel's security by
ceding to "internal rivalries" within the Labor party, while Peretz
Yisrael Beiteinu of being a racist party. Yisrael
Beiteinu's member of
Esterina Tartman referred to
Peretz's decision as a "lethal blow to Zionism", adding that
Majadale's presence in the cabinet would damage "Israel's character as
a Jewish state" and that "We need to destroy this affliction from
within ourselves. God willing, God will come to our help." Tartman's
comments were immediately condemned as racist by other MKs.
In January 2008 the party left the government in protest against talks
with the Palestinian National Authority, saying certain issues
negotiated were not to be tolerated. Lieberman pulled out of the
government and left his position as Minister of Strategic Affairs,
and almost immediately afterwards,
Arutz Sheva reported that an
investigation against Lieberman and his daughter that had been
"ongoing for years, suddenly became active again once he left the
government last week".
On 22 December 2008, Lieberman approved the party's list for the 2009
elections. New names in the top ten include
Orly Levy (daughter of
Likud MK David Levy) and Anastasia Michaeli, two former models
and current television hosts.
Yosef Shagal and Tartman
failed to make the list. The results of the election saw the party
win 15 seats, making it the third largest after
Kadima (28) and Likud
(27). In March 2009,
Yisrael Beiteinu joined Binyamin Netanyahu's
coalition and party leader
Avigdor Lieberman became Deputy Prime
Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, while the party received four
other ministerial portfolios, and one deputy minister post.
On 25 October 2012, Lieberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Yisrael Beiteinu and
Likud would run together on a
single ballot in Israel's 22 January 2013 general elections. "In view
of the challenges we're facing, we need responsibility on a national
level ... We're providing a true alternative, and an opportunity for
the citizens to stabilize leadership and government," Lieberman
The supreme body in the party is the party conference, which convenes
every four years. The party members elect party office-holders
including the members of the party arbitration panel, the permanent
commission, the municipal commission, and the comptroller.
Yisrael Beiteinu runs for local elections under the name of the city
that they run in, e.g.
Petah Tikva Beiteinu ("
Petah Tikva Our Home").
Relations with Israeli Arabs and Palestinians
Main article: Lieberman Plan
One of the party's main policies is that of drawing the borders in
such a way that areas with large Arab populations, such as the
Triangle area and the Wadi Ara, both gained by
Israel as part of the
1949 Armistice Agreements, would be transferred to Arab sovereignty.
Known as the Lieberman Plan, such an arrangement would mean that the
majority of Jews would live in
Israel and the majority of Arabs would
live in a future Palestinian state. In most cases there is no physical
population transfer or demolition of houses, but creating a new border
where none existed before, according to demographics.
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 55/153, written in 2001,
explicitly states: "When part of the territory of a state is
transferred by that state to another state, the successor state shall
attribute its nationality to the persons concerned who have their
habitual residence in the transferred territory and the predecessor
state shall withdraw its nationality from such persons," and Lieberman
claims that this means
Israel can legally transfer territory and
citizens as a means of peace and ultimate conflict resolution.
Avigdor Lieberman argues that the Arab residents see themselves not as
Israelis but as Palestinians, and should therefore be encouraged to
join the Palestinian Authority. Lieberman has presented this proposal
as part of a potential peace deal aimed at establishing two separate
national entities, one for Jews in
Israel and the other for Arabs in
Palestine. However, he is known to have an affinity for and is popular
Druze population (the only Arabic-speaking male population
to be fully drafted into the IDF), and has attracted a number of Druze
voters, including some in the
Golan Heights who voted for the party in
Hamad Amar was elected to the
the party's list in 2009.[not in citation given]
Regarding Palestinian statehood, Lieberman has said that he supports
the creation of "a viable Palestinian state".
Internal Security Minister
Yitzhak Aharonovitch proposed to use
"administrative detention against those carrying out so-called 'price
tag' attacks". This was in reference to Jewish extremists perpetrating
hate crimes against Arabs.
Nakba Day reform
Yisrael Beiteinu was instrumental in passing a law that would fine
bodies that receive state funding being spent in recognition of Nakba
Day, and events that call for the end of
Israel as a Jewish
State.[not in citation given][not in citation given]
The Iranian nuclear program
Yisrael Beiteinu has taken a strong stance against the growth and
development of the Iranian nuclear program. Lieberman has made clear
that "there are no illusions as to the Iranians' intentions regarding
their military nuclear program," after meeting U.S. Homeland Security
Janet Napolitano in Jerusalem. Lieberman and the party have
worked hard and collaborated with many world leaders in order to keep
the issue at the top of the global agenda and to increase
international pressure. "I do not believe the international community
is under any illusions regarding Iran's willingness to give up its
nuclear program," Lieberman said.
A long-time and current standing goal of the party has been government
reform. Yisrael Beiteinu, since its inception, has called for the
separation of the legislative and executive branches to increase
accountability and uniformity within government. Danny Ayalon, Deputy
Foreign Minister, MK, and former international party chair, explained
the party's call for reform; "In Israel, there is no sufficient
separation of powers. Around a third of the
Knesset members serve as
ministers or deputy ministers and are thus forbidden to introduce laws
or participate in committees. There are few apposite checks and
balances, in fact, farcically, the opposite is true; as an MK, I am
expected to conduct oversight of my role as Deputy Foreign
Minister." Between an impending nuclear Iran and the rising cost
of living within
Yisrael Beiteinu has been committed to
finding a solution within the
Knesset that will allow for action to be
taken.[opinion] "The people want change, and are sick and tired of all
the wheeling and dealing within the coalition that is necessary to
pass the simplest of laws," Ayalon further explains.
The Norwegian Law
As the party seeks to increase governability, it supports the passage
of the Norwegian Law, that will require MKs to resign their seats when
appointed a ministerial position and be replaced by another party
member.[not in citation given]
Relations with Gaza
Yisrael Beiteinu advocates "the complete cutting of ties with Gaza and
its separation from the West Bank".
Religion and state
Yisrael Beiteinu does not advocate a separation of religion and state,
but rather seeks to moderate the Israeli rabbinate. Following an
attempt to delegitimize the conversion of soldiers that were made
through the authority of the army's chief rabbi, MKs
David Rotem and
Robert Ilatov led the party in the passing of a bill that formally
legalized the conversions.
The party is also working to make marriage easier for secular Israelis
by working to pass the Tzohar Law. The new law will end the
restriction of Jewish couples to be wedded only by the rabbi of their
locale, permitting them to choose any recognized rabbi in the country
to perform their marriage. This is intended to help the couple to
avoid the often burdensome bureaucracy associated with the marriage
Yisrael Beiteinu, particularly MK David Rotem, has promoted reforming
the Law of Return, which would undertake the following measures:
Potentially, but not officially, make the
Law of Return
Law of Return applicable
exclusively to born Jews, and Orthodox converts as well as their
offspring, rather than converts to mainline sects of Judaism from
other religions if those converts visited
Israel at any point prior to
conversion[not in citation given]
Make clearer delineations between the
Law of Return
Law of Return and the
Broaden the power of the
Chief Rabbinate of Israel
Chief Rabbinate of Israel by authorizing
Chief Rabbinate-appointed municipal rabbis to carry out conversions
and marriages for the converted
The Conversion Bill has been heavily criticized by various religious
groups in both
Israel and other countries;
Shas and United Torah
Judaism initially balked at the bill due to perceived contradictions
against Jewish law, but eventually reached a compromise.[not in
citation given] The Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist
movements heavily objected against the bill's further centering of
religious power in the hands of the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate of
Israel, discriminating against converts to Progressive Judaism and
potentially alienating non-Orthodox Jews in the Jewish diaspora.
Lia Shemtov is known for her opposition to the Israeli
welfare-to-work plan (known as the "Wisconsin Plan"), along with the
rest of the party.
The party also supports increasing the police force, improving
education, easing conversions, and secular/non-religious civil
unions.[not in citation given] The last two points are
particularly popular with the Russian immigrant community who vote
heavily for the party. These items angered some of
the religious parties, such as Shas, with Shas's Rabbi Ovadia Yossef
claiming that "Whoever votes for Lieberman gives strength to Satan",
and claims that the party is a danger to religious matters in
Israel. While the party as a whole does not advocate the
separation of religion and state, the local chapters generally push
for measures that the religious public opposes, such as public
transportation on Saturdays and the ability to sell pork (which is
treif and haram) in general stores.
Yisrael Beiteinu does not take an official stance on same-sex
marriage, but 80% of its voters back its passage.
A number of mainstream media sources, within and outside of Israel,
have labelled the party, and Lieberman, as right-wing, and even
far-right or ultra nationalist, including Fox News, BBC
News, The Telegraph,[not in citation given] The
Guardian, Haaretz, The
Jerusalem Post, The New
The Times (London), France 24, Newsweek,
NPR, and Xinhua News Agency. At the same time, however, the
party does recognize a two-state solution, and it is a secular party,
with some of its particular religious policies described as
"ultra-liberal". These positions are contradictory to the
tradition of both nationalistic and religious right wing politics in
Israel. Some have called the party and its leader a "hard-line" or
"self-styled" populist, including Newsweek, The Telegraph, The
Guardian, Reuters, and Time.
While various Arab and world media and politicians accused the party
and its leader of being a fascist and racist, a
number of Israeli media and politicians tend to disagree,[not in
citation given] and some even offered praise on occasion. For
example, Kadima's Minister of Finance
Roni Bar-On said "It's a Jewish
party, Zionist and serious." The party phenomenon was explained by
Lieberman is not a right-winger, because he's talking about giving up
land. In fact, he's even willing to give up land from sovereign
Israel. [..] I think one of the reasons people say Lieberman is in the
center is that they don't realize he has, in effect, redefined the
In a February 2009 opinion piece considered to be directed at the
Avigdor Lieberman stated that Yisrael Beiteinu
was neither far-right, nor ultra-nationalist.
Yehuda Ben-Meir wrote in the
Haaretz that he did not and would not
ever vote for Lieberman. He also criticized the delegitimizing and
demonizing of both the right and the left:
Lieberman is neither a racist nor a fascist, and depicting him as such
does an injustice to his voters and harm to Israel.
What's racist is denying the Jewish people a state of their own.
Knesset members talk incessantly about the Palestinian
people's rights, including their own state. But in the same breath
they refuse to acknowledge
Israel as the state of the Jewish people
and deny the very existence of a Jewish people as a nation with
Just as we must condemn right wingers' attempts to cast doubt over the
patriotism of Yossi Beilin and his fellow subscribers to the Geneva
Initiative – provocative as this plan might be to most Israelis –
we must condemn the left's lamentable habit of denigrating Lieberman.
The idea to change the state's borders in a peace agreement may not be
practical or implementable in our circumstances, but we cannot deny
its legitimacy and sense. And in any case, it has nothing to do with
racism. Lieberman has said publicly that he supports the principle of
establishing a Palestinian state.
According to Time, many Russian immigrants are attracted to the ideas
of Lieberman's party. It also notes that analysts say that at this
time "the dreary prospects for peace, and recent terrorist attacks
inflicted by Israeli Arabs" have contributed to Lieberman's popularity
among other segments of Israeli society.
Yisrael Beiteinu and its plan have many vehement critics from the left
and the right in Israel.
Despite its support for increased Jewish immigration (aliyah) and
settlement expansion, Yisrael Beiteinu's platform is based in part on
the creation of a Palestinian state adjacent to Israel, and thus has
alienated much of the religious right-wing settlement movement, which
refuses to acknowledge Palestinian claims to any of the 'Land of
Yisrael Beiteinu has drawn equally strong criticism from the Left, in
large part due to the Lieberman Plan's proposed land and population
transfers along ethnic lines. This focus on ethnicity and religion has
drawn comparisons with the now defunct Kach party.
Lieberman Plan caused a stir among Arab citizens of Israel, which
explicitly treats them as a 'fifth column' and as an enemy within.
With few exceptions, Arabs in
Israel argue that they have lived in the
region for centuries, and should not have to renounce the villages and
cities in which they, their parents, and their grandparents were born
(although the plan calls for a transfer of sovereignty, rather than
population, making this concern a non-issue). Others insist that as
Israeli citizens, they deserve equal rights within the State, and
should not be singled out according to their ethnic or religious
background. Various polls show that Arabs in
Israel in general do not
wish to move to the
West Bank or Gaza if a Palestinian state were
created there, although at the same time refusing to identify as
Israeli and referring themselves as Palestinians.
Allegations of anti-Arabism
See also: Anti-Arabism
Two Israeli Arab journalists were excluded from a campaign gathering
Yisrael Beiteinu in Haifa.
Haifa Deputy Mayor Yulia Shtraim, a
member of the party's municipal faction, said she would not allow the
journalists to enter the hall "because of the Arabs' demonstration and
what [the demonstrators] say about [Avigdor] Lieberman". The Israeli
Arab journalists were denied access, despite possessing press cards,
being told that they were uninvited. However uninvited Jewish and
foreign media were allowed in.
YB party ballot 2009
The party currently has 5
Knesset members, since 2016.
Likud signs coalition agreement with Yisrael Beiteinu". Jewish
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Israel Beitenu party ... ultranationalist party ... Lieberman probably
won't get enough votes to be prime minister. Yet the populist may well
be a kingmaker ... For dovish Israelis, Levy's résumé isn't really
the problem—it's the hard-line views of her party.
^ Eric Westervelt (9 February 2009). "Israeli Ultranationalist
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... To many Israeli Arab citizens, Lieberman's message is simply
^ "Abbas, Haneya slam Israel's new round of Gaza offensive". Xinhua
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Lieberman, chairman of the extreme-right party Yisrael Beiteinu....
Islamic Jihad's leader in Gaza, Khaled al-Batsh ... said the
operations 'are a gift to the ultra-nationalist bigot Avigdor
Lieberman who joined the government to expand aggression and
^ NEWS: Livni demands rotating prime ministerial post; Lieberman wants
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The right-wing party leader seems to be gaining support for Tuesday's
election by campaigning on populist anxieties, such as the enemy
within and how to expose him by challenging his loyalty.
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with Netanyahu in the late 1990s, delighted in blasting the Israeli
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Ta'al MK Ahmed Tibi said the addition of a
'fascist and racist party' showed Olmert's true colors.
^ "A Jewish Hitler?". Antiwar. 27 October 2006. [unreliable
^ "Arab MK calls Lieberman a 'fascist'". The
Jerusalem Post. 22 March
2006. Retrieved 5 July 2015. MK Issam Mahoul charged Tuesday that
Israeli democracy is in danger and called MK
Avigdor Lieberman of
Israel Beiteinu a 'fascist.' 'Lieberman wants to transfer Um al-Fahm
citizens of the State of
Israel outside of the country. My question
is: How does Israeli democracy have a place for such a racist
^ Nathan Jeffay (11 February 2009). "Beiteinu Now Big Player". The
Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved 5 July 2015. On the Palestinian side,
Ramallah-based analyst Sam Bahour told the Forward that he deems
Beiteinu 'racist and fascist'.
^ "Arabs Pessimistic About Israeli Elections". VOA News. 2 November
2009. Retrieved 5 July 2015. A newspaper in Cairo, Egypt's Al-Ahram
weekly, likened Israel's ultra-nationalist
Yisrael Beiteinu party
leader, Avigdor Lieberman, to a fascist.
Haviv Rettig Gur; Abe Selig (10 February 2009). "'Lieberman isn't
racist, Hamas is'". The
Jerusalem Post. Speaking to one television
camera, 16-year-old Veronica, sporting a Lieberman election T-shirt,
insisted that 'Lieberman isn't racist, Hamas is racist.'
^ Gideon Alon (26 February 2007). "Not racist, stigmatized". Haaretz.
Retrieved 5 July 2015.
^ Abe Selig (14 February 2009). "Is
Avigdor Lieberman a racist? No,
Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 5 July 2015. Is Lieberman is a
racist? 'Is he a racist? No, I don't think so,' said Efraim Zuroff,
famed Nazi hunter and head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in
Jerusalem.... Dr. Alex Yakobson, a lecturer in history at the Hebrew
University, said that Lieberman's proposed policies were offensive,
not racist, although the atmosphere of Lieberman's campaign may have
brought the racist beliefs of others to the surface.
^ "Olmert may include ultra-nationalist party in coalition". Gulf
News. 5 April 2006. Archived from the original on 4 July 2008.
Retrieved 5 July 2015.
^ Jennie Rothenberg Gritz (May 2007). "'
Israel Our Home'". The
Atlantic. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
Avigdor Lieberman (5 March 2009). "The case for 'responsible
citizenship' in Israel". New Jersey Jewish News. Retrieved 5 July
^ Benhorin, Yitzhak (26 February 2009). "Lieberman: I Back the
Creation of Palestinian State". Ynetnews. Retrieved 27 February
Yehuda Ben-Meir (26 April 2009). "Lieberman is no racist". Haaretz.
Retrieved 5 July 2015.
^ Jaron Gilinsky reporting (27 May 2009). Israel's Kingmaker (video).
Time. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
^ Gideon Levy (2 August 2009). "Kahane Won". Haaretz. Retrieved 5 July
^ "Israel's 'Mr. TV' likens Lieberman to slain anti-Arab extremist
Kahane". Haaretz. 1 January 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
^ Uri Dromi (24 March 2006). "Israeli Arabs and the Vote".
International Herald Tribune. Archived from the original on 27
November 2006. Retrieved 5 July 2015. Lieberman never bothered to ask
the Israeli Arabs if they were willing to give up their Israeli
citizenship and become citizens of a Palestinian state. Sammy Smooha
Haifa University, who published the Index of Arab-Jewish Relations
Israel in 2004, did ask them, and they answered with a resounding
No. Despite all the rhetoric about being Palestinians first, hardly a
single Israeli Arab would trade Israeli citizenship for a Palestinian
^ Lily Galili; Fadi Eyadat (10 February 2009). "Arab reporters banned
from campaign meet of Lieberman's far-right party". Haaretz. Retrieved
5 July 2015.
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