Skip to main content

How the once-moderate Likud was radicalized

Over the past few years, the Likud has abandoned its image as a liberal, center-right party, becoming more radical and identifying with the extreme Israeli right.
Read in 

On the eve of the 2009 general elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, then the chairman of the opposition, was able to enlist a slew of “stars” into the ranks of the Likud. Among them were the party’s erstwhile secessionists Dan Meridor (the son of Eliyahu Meridor, a leader of the pre-state resistance movement) and Benny Begin (the son of late Prime Minister Menachem Begin), referred to as the "princes" for their political lineage, as well as Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, by then a former chief of staff. Considered upstanding statesmen, these figures enjoyed wide public respect, awarding the Likud, headed by Netanyahu, some much needed momentum and relevance.

During that campaign, Netanyahu wanted to present to the public a popular and soft-core right-wing-leaning party. To this end, he pulled out all the stops to prevent far-right Likud member Moshe Feiglin from being elected to a realistic spot on the party’s slate. Netanyahu believed that if Feiglin, considered a radical right-wing settler, did win a spot on the list, the party would lose about four Knesset seats.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.