Independence (Israeli political party)

Independence (Hebrew: העצמאות‎, Ha'Atzma'ut) was a political party in Israel, that was launched by Defense Minister Ehud Barak on 17 January 2011, after he and four other Labor Party MKs seceded from the caucus. Upon secession, the faction stated that it aimed to establish itself as a separate "centrist, Zionist, and democratic" political party.[3] It was founded on the vestiges of the Third Way party.[4] Nine days after Barak announced his retirement from politics, it was made public that Independence would not take part in the 2013 Knesset elections.


סיעת העצמאות
ChairmanEhud Barak
Founded17 January 2011
DissolvedDecember 2012 (2012-12)
Split fromLabor Party
Third Way
Political positionCentre to Center-left[1][2]


The secession was seen as a preemptive move before other Labor MKs acted on their ultimatum to either let Labor leave Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition due to the stalling of a peace process or force Labor's then-chairman Barak to face the consequences within his own party. Splitting the Labor Party enabled Barak to keep a faction of Labor MKs loyal to him within Netanyahu's coalition, preventing the departure of all 13 Labor MKs from the coalition. As of 17 January 2011, the coalition had the support of 66 out of 120 MKs, as compared to 74 prior to that. Since Labor was often an unreliable coalition partner in Knesset voting, the reduced number of MKs did not increase the risk of a no-confidence vote. Netanyahu was singled out by analysts as the biggest winner from the split,[5][6] and was reported to have been involved in the behind-the-scenes making of the political deal.[7] Barak said that he was tired of infighting within Labor as he accused the rest of the Labor of "moving too far to the dovish end of the political spectrum." The more leftist faction was also wary of Barak's closeness to the Prime Minister Netanyahu.[8] Daniel Ben-Simon left the Labor party in protest against Barak's decision to stay with the government.[9]

MK Einat Wilf mentioned in the press conference: "Not all is our fault, some of it is the Palestinians' fault", referring to the argument leading up to the departure of Independence from the Labor Party.[10] Wilf also said that the party could not stay united because one faction was moving towards the "far left of Israeli politics," and the other side believed the current government was an effective partnership.[9] However, the remaining members of Labor condemned the move. Eitan Cabel said it would "destroy the party,”[11] whilst Shelly Yachimovich called it "a corrupt and opportunistic move, designed to save Barak's seat in the government. He has brought a catastrophe upon Labor."[12] Daniel Ben-Simon had stated prior to the split that he would become an independent MK because of Labor's continued position in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Avishai Braverman, Minister of Minorities, and Isaac Herzog, Minister of Social Affairs, also intended to resign following the split.[9]

In a move to avoid the months of bureaucracy involved in registering a new party, Barak negotiated a takeover of the Third Way with its leader Avigdor Kahalani. The Third Way had held seats in the Knesset between 1996 and 1999, and although had effectively ceased functioning after losing them in the 1999 elections, it had remained a registered party.[13] The Knesset Committee approved the request of Independence to take over the Third Way party, a decision needed for it to receive funding from the state.[14]

The founding conference of the party was held in May 2011 with eighty members in attendance. The conference approved the party's statute and the appointment of Barak as chairman. In September 2011 the faction's name was officially changed to "The Independence Party" through the national party registrar.[15] In February 2012 Minister Matan Vilnai resigned his post in the cabinet and the Knesset for the post of being the Israeli Ambassador to China, and Shachiv Shnaan was sworn in instead.[citation needed]

Government representationEdit

A day after the party's formation, four of its five Knesset members were given ministerial positions; Barak remained Minister of Defence, Vilnai was given the new post of Minister for the Home Front, Noked became Minister of Agriculture and Simhon became Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor and Minister of Minorities.[16] without their party having the benefit of having participating in an election.

Knesset membersEdit

Party founder Ehud Barak

Six people represented the party in the Knesset:


  1. ^ Charles Levinson (18 January 2011). "Barak exit divides Israel Labor party". Wall Street Journal.
  2. ^ Scott Bobb (26 November 2012). "Israeli Defense Minister Quits Politics". Voice of America.
  3. ^ Hoffman, Gil; Herb Keinon (17 January 2011). "Barak: New faction to be 'centralist, Zionist, democratic'". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  4. ^ Ophir Bar-Zohar (16 April 2012). "Yair Lapid reveals name of his new Israeli political party: Atid". Haaretz.
  5. ^ Barak saved Netanyahu Ynetnews, 17 January 2011
  6. ^ Netanyahu: Barak's split from Labor strengthens Israel's government Haaretz, 17 January 2011
  7. ^ Behind the split: Deal between Barak and Netanyahu Yediot Ahronot 17 January 2011 (in Hebrew)
  8. ^ Edmund Sanders (26 November 2012). "Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to quit politics". Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ a b c "Barak quits Israel's Labour party". al Jazeera. 17 January 2011. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  10. ^ Coalition factions want the portfolios of the Labour Ministers that quit Maariv (video), 17 January 2011 (in Hebrew)
  11. ^ Ben Gedalyahu, Tzvi (17 January 2011). "Barak Splits Labor Party, Will Remain Defense Minister". Israel National News. Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  12. ^ Fendel, Hillel (17 January 2011). "Barak Says Labor Pulled Leftward". Israel National News. Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  13. ^ Barak readies to launch Independence Party Yediot Ahronot, 9 May 2011
  14. ^ סיעת העצמאות הופכת למפלגה, Arutz Sheva, 13 April 2011 (in Hebrew)
  15. ^ Barak’s Independence faction now a party The Jerusalem Post, 8 April 2011
  16. ^ Labor dissidents get 4 portfolios Ynetnews, 18 January 2011

External linksEdit