Israeli political party


Zehut (Hebrew: זֶהוּת, lit. 'identity') was a right-libertarian[11][12][13] and nationalist[9][10] political party in Israel founded in 2015 by Moshe Feiglin.[14] Its platform was centered around promoting individual liberty, including economic freedom, and annexing the West Bank. The party also advocated for legalization of cannabis.[15][12]


Manhigut Yehudit

The roots of Zehut lie in the Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) movement within the Likud party, established in 1995 by Moshe Feiglin in order to attain the country's leadership through it, eventually receiving 23% of the votes in the 2012 Likud leadership election. In the 2013 elections, Feiglin was elected to the 19th Knesset, and served as its Deputy Speaker.[16]

After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took active steps to block Feiglin's advancement in the party,[17] he reached the conclusion that it would be impossible to affect any political changes while acting within the Likud. In 2015, he left it to form the Zehut party, which was officially registered later that year.[18][19][20]


Zehut's first conference, held in 2017 at Hangar 11 in Tel Aviv Port, had over 2,000 attendees.[21]

Idan Mor, a prominent stand-up comedian and cannabis legalization activist known by his pseudonym "Gadi Wilcherski", joined the party in December 2018, and has appeared in most of its rallies since.[22]


Prior to 2019, Zehut had never been listed in a poll by media outlets, but internal polling in April 2017 showed that the party could win up to 12 Knesset seats if voters were confident that it would pass the 3.25% threshold.[23] Many pollsters kept excluding Zehut as a pre-written selectable option as late as 11 March 2019.[24] Since then, every poll conducted by various organizations have showed that Zehut would pass the threshold, receiving 4–8 seats.[citation needed]

In July 2018, Zehut announced it would be holding Israel's first open primaries.[25] They were held on 29 January 2019 at voting booths as well as online. About 12,000 people voted in these primaries, which determined the order of the candidates who won in the party's internal primaries in September 2017.[26][27] One out of every 10 candidates is represented by Zehut International, the party's Jewish diaspora branch.[28]

In late March 2019, a major poll conducted by the National Union of Students found that Zehut was the 2nd-most popular party (after Blue and White) among Israeli college and university students.[29]

April 2019 campaign

Members of the Zehut party list for the April 2019 elections during the party's campaign inauguration event.

During the campaign for the April 2019 election, Feiglin stated that he did not have a preference between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main election rival Benny Gantz.[30]

Zehut made cannabis legalization a condition for joining any government after the April elections,[22][31] and would pursue the finance and education ministries.[11][30] Feiglin also stated that the party will not join a government that is willing to sell out the Land of Israel.[32]

September 2019 campaign

After narrowly missing the Knesset threshold in the April 2019 election, Feiglin announced on 30 May that Zehut will run in the September snap election. He expressed openness to run as part of an alliance on the right,[33] and urged "all political figures who see themselves as part of the freedom camp" to join it.[34] Feiglin and New Right leader Naftali Bennett discussed a potential electoral alliance (whose leader Feiglin preferred be elected in open primaries) in a meeting that was described as "long and positive".[35]

Feiglin also said that while Zehut's platform and principles had not changed, it would make a number of strategic changes, including clearly emphasizing that it is a right-wing party, and no longer make cannabis legalization a condition for joining any government coalition.[35]

Upon taking the leadership of the New Right and merging with the Union of Right-Wing Parties to form Yamina, Ayelet Shaked expressed openness towards bringing Zehut and Otzma Yehudit into the alliance.[36] Zehut also engaged in direct talks with Otzma Yehudit for a joint list,[37] with backing from Netanyahu after Likud internal polling showed that the two parties together would pass the electoral threshold.[38] Ultimately, however, Feiglin announced that Zehut would be running alone, accusing Shaked of ignoring overtures by his party.[39]

Netanyahu later sent messengers to urge Zehut to drop out of the election, offering to help pay the party’s debts and merge the party into the Likud. However, Feiglin initially declined the offer, claiming that his voter base would support Benny Gantz, Avigdor Lieberman or stay home if that took place.[40] Netanyahu subsequently met with Feiglin to offer him a senior position in the Ministry of Finance, the adoption of some of Zehut's economic policies, and ease access to medical cannabis providing he drop his election bid. Feiglin then declared that if he received an agreeable proposal, he would put it to a vote by Zehut supporters.[41][42]

On 29 August 2019, Feiglin announced an agreement with Netanyahu had been reached and that Zehut would withdraw from the election, pending approval by the Zehut membership. According to the terms of the agreement, the parties would not merge, but Feiglin would serve as a minister in the next government, and the next government would implement some of Zehut's economic and cannabis reforms.[43]

On 1 September, the Zehut membership approved the deal and consequently the party withdrew from the election[44]

The party did not contest the 2020 or 2021 elections.[45]

In July 2021, Feiglin announced that he was rejoining Likud.[46]


The party platform of Zehut consisted of the following positions:[15][47]

  • Opposition to coercion of all kinds: religious, anti-religious, economic, cultural, or educational; and minimization of state intervention in the life and liberty of private individuals.
  • Gradual reduction of the number of government ministries from 29 to 11.
  • Legalization of cannabis to be sold by licensed companies, with a consumption age limit of 21 years.
  • Lowering taxes by adopting a flat tax rate, equally reducing corporate taxes for all companies, and gradually eliminating tariffs and import quotas.
  • Reforming education by introducing a school voucher system on a voluntary basis.
  • Reduction of housing prices through land privatization, abolishing planning and building committees, and removing construction freezes in the West Bank.
  • Privatization of state-owned hospitals based on contracts with prize and quality conditions.
  • Transferring matters of religion and culture from the state to the community.
  • Reforming the judicial system by splitting it into one of common/civil law and one of Halakha (Jewish law) that can only exercise jurisdiction over individuals who have consented thereto.
  • Abolishing the Chief Rabbinate's monopoly over personal issues, and reducing its budget to local voluntary taxation only.
  • Abolishing marriage registration; marriage will be defined individually by each couple.
  • Protection of free speech and media, and abolishing mandatory broadcasting licenses.
  • Protection of the right to keep and bear arms, and extending it to all citizens (not only ex-soldiers) without a violent past or certain physical or mental limitations.
  • Elimination of police brutality by outlawing the use of force against non-violent civil disobedience, and allowing communities to appoint their own local police chiefs.
  • Abolishing the biometric database, as it infringes the right to privacy.
  • Applying full Israeli sovereignty to all parts of the Land of Israel.
    • In the West Bank: Nullification of the Oslo Accords.
    • In the Gaza Strip: Any attack by Hamas against Israel must be responded to by a full re-conquest of Gaza (though unnecessary small incursions must be avoided).
    • Terrorists will be offered the option of peaceful withdrawal, and individual non-Jews will be offered three options: financially assisted emigration to a destination of their choice; permanent residency status (equal rights, except for national voting rights) after having declared their loyalty to Israel and been thoroughly vetted; or Israeli citizenship (full equal rights) when doing military or national service.
  • Gradual transition of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from a conscription to a professional volunteer army, drafting citizens only for the most basic training.
  • Ending all US aid to Israel along with its conditions, as it damages Israel's economic independence and trade freedom.

April 2019 Knesset candidates

The following order of Knesset candidates was chosen in Israel's first open primaries:[48]

  1. Moshe Feiglin, Party Chairman and ex-Likud lawmaker
  2. Rabbi Haim Amsalem, ex-Shas lawmaker and religious freedom activist who joined the party after the primaries were held
  3. Gilad Alper, senior economist and candidate for Finance Minister
  4. Dr. Ronit Dror, sociologist and rights activist
  5. Libby Molad, lawyer, Objectivist, and candidate for Education Minister
  6. Shai Malka, Party Campaign Manager
  7. Dr. Refael Minnes, physics lecturer and classical liberal activist
  8. Albert Levy, businessman, environmental activist, and new olim representative
  9. Ron Tsafrir, cannabis legalization activist and medical cannabis consumer
  10. Rabbi Ben Tzion Spitz, Representative of Diaspora Jewry
  11. Yiska Bina
  12. Shmuel Sackett, led the Zo Artzeinu movement alongside Moshe Feiglin in 1995
  13. Shlomo Gordon
  14. Arcady Mutter
  15. Rabbi Dudi Spitz


Leader Took office Left office
Moshe Feiglin (cropped).jpg Moshe Feiglin 2015 2021

Election results

Election year Party Leader No. of votes % of vote No. of seats
+/- Government
April 2019 Moshe Feiglin 118,031 2.7 (13th)
0 / 120
New party N/A
September 2019 Moshe Feiglin N/A (withdrew from election) N/A
0 / 120

See also


  1. ^ a b Staff writer (24 March 2019). "Feiglin: Palestinians in Gaza had more rights under Israel". Israel Hayom. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  2. ^ Jeremy Sharon (11 July 2019). "Zehut activists tempted by a grand political vision in a Jerusalem pub". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  3. ^ "Ultranationalists to play kingmakers after Israeli election". Deutsche Welle. 5 April 2019.
  4. ^ "The Potential Kingmaker in Israel: An Ultranationalist Who Wants to Legalize Pot". Wall Street Journal. 4 April 2019.
  5. ^ "Netanyahu strikes election deal with ultra-nationalist party". ABC News. 29 August 2019.
  6. ^ Isabel Kershner (5 April 2019). "A Pro-Pot Candidate Could Prove Decisive in Israeli Election". New York Times. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  7. ^ Jacob Magid (24 March 2019). "Feiglin says his party 'similar' to extremist Otzma Yehudit on Palestinian issue". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  8. ^ Dov Lipman (29 July 2019). "Shaked shakes up politics again, with new merger on Israeli right". Jewish News Syndicate. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  9. ^ a b Kershner, Isabel (5 April 2019). "A Pro-Pot Candidate Could Prove Decisive in Israeli Election". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 April 2019. ...a far-right nationalist libertarian who advocates small government, legalizing marijuana and a free-market economy.
  10. ^ a b Pfeffer, Anshel (4 April 2019). "Moshe Feiglin: the far-right libertarian who could decide Israel's general election". The Times. Retrieved 7 April 2019. ...Zehut (Identity), the new libertarian party whose poll surge has surprised everyone...pushing for various far-right nationalist policies
  11. ^ a b Harkov, Lahav (17 March 2019). "The Feiglin phenomenon". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 17 March 2019. The leader of the rising Zehut Party is attracting more than just young potheads to his libertarian platform
  12. ^ a b "Zehut". Israel Democracy Institute. Retrieved 21 February 2019. ...and personal liberty. Its platform includes libertarian economic positions...
  13. ^ Eglash, Ruth (4 April 2019). "A pro-pot party could tip the scales in Israel's upcoming election". The Washington Post. Retrieved 7 April 2019. Now you have two special-interest groups. What pulls them together is the strong libertarian, anti-state agenda that works well for both.
  14. ^ Tzivi Lev (12 September 2017). "Feiglin's 'Zehut' party heads to the polls". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  15. ^ a b "Zehut Platform". Zehut. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  16. ^ Jacob Kornbluh (26 February 2015). "Former Likud MK Moshe Feiglin Establishes New Political Party |". jpupdates.com. Archived from the original on 25 March 2015. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  17. ^ Amnon Meranda (11 December 2008). "Feiglin won't appeal bump to 36th spot". Ynetnews. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  18. ^ Gil Stern Hoffman (30 March 2015). "Feiglin to register new political party". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  19. ^ Jonathan Lis (6 April 2015). "Feiglin Establishing New Party for Next Knesset Election". Haaretz. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  20. ^ Ido Ben Porat (16 July 2015). "Feiglin Registers 'Zehut' Party". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  21. ^ Yoni Kempinski (28 February 2017). "Feiglin: Return the State to the People". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  22. ^ a b משה פייגלין (5 January 2019), עניין החירות זה מה שמחבר אותנו What Brings Us Together, retrieved 9 March 2019
  23. ^ Gil Hoffman (14 September 2016). "Feiglin to take advantage of Likud's weakness to promote his new party". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  24. ^ Lisa Liel (4 March 2019). "Political Opinion Polling and Zehut". The Times of Israel blogs. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  25. ^ Gil Hoffman (25 July 2018). "Moshe Feiglin relaunches right wing political party". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  26. ^ Albert Levy (27 January 2019). "Open primaries are good for all Israelis and good for Israel". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  27. ^ Wootliff, Raoul (29 January 2019). "With first open primaries, Moshe Feiglin's 'Zehut' looks for a public identity". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  28. ^ "Zehut is all about leadership". Arutz Sheva. 3 January 2017. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  29. ^ Staff writer (1 April 2019). "Gantz, Feiglin top election poll for Israeli college students". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  30. ^ a b Staff writer (29 March 2019). "Feiglin says no preference between Gantz and Netanyahu for next PM". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  31. ^ Karzen, Shelly (11 February 2019). "Cannabis Potential and the Cronies: By Moshe Feiglin". Zehut. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  32. ^ Karzen, Shelly (27 March 2019). "Will ZEHUT Give Up the Land of Israel for Cannabis? Moshe Feiglin answers". Zehut. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  33. ^ Staff writer (30 May 2019). "Feiglin: We're open to alliances on the right". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  34. ^ Gil Hoffman (1 June 2019). "Feiglin confirms seeking political bond for Zehut". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  35. ^ a b Staff writer (2 June 2019). "Feiglin confirms meeting Bennett to discuss cooperating in elections". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  36. ^ "Shaked says she will try to include Otzma Yehudit, Zehut in right-wing union". The Times of Israel. 29 July 2019. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  37. ^ Staff writer (24 July 2019). "Moshe Feiglin, Itamar Ben-Gvir might merge to better parties' chances". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  38. ^ "Netanyahu trying to convince Otzma Yehudit and Zehut to merge — report". The Times of Israel. 29 July 2019. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  39. ^ Staff writer (28 July 2019). "Zehut announces it will run alone". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  40. ^ Zaken, Danny (26 August 2019). "Likud fears small right-wing parties will fail elections". Al-Monitor.
  41. ^ "Mounting pressure on smaller right-wing parties to drop out of elections". The Jerusalem Post.
  42. ^ "Netanyahu offers Feiglin a cabinet post, pot deregulation to bow out of race". The Times of Israel. 26 August 2019.
  43. ^ Gil Hoffman (29 August 2019). "Netanyahu promises Feiglin ministry so that Zehut Party ends race". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  44. ^ "Zehut Members Approve Dropout Deal With Likud". Hamodia. 1 September 2019.
  45. ^ "Right-wing Zehut Party Won't Run in Israel's Third Election". Haaretz. 13 December 2019.
  46. ^ "Former Zehut Party head Moshe Feiglin announces return to Likud". www.jpost.com. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  47. ^ "The Zehut Platform Summary". Zehut. 4 April 2019.
  48. ^ "The ZEHUT Knesset List". Zehut. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
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