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Elections for the 12th Knesset were held in Israel on 1 November 1988. Voter turnout was 79.7%.[1]

Elections for the 12th Knesset
← 1984 1 November 1988 1992 →
Party Leader % Seats ±
Likud Yitzhak Shamir 31.1% 40 -1
Alignment Shimon Peres 30.0% 39 -5
Shas Yitzhak Haim Peretz 4.7% 6 +2
Agudat Yisrael Moshe Ze'ev Feldman 4.5% 5 +3
Ratz Shulamit Aloni 4.3% 5 +2
Mafdal Avner Hai Shaki 3.9% 5 +1
Hadash Meir Wilner 3.7% 4 0
Tehiya Yuval Ne'eman 3.1% 3
Mapam Yair Tzaban 2.5% 3
Tzomet Rafael Eitan 2.0% 2
Moledet Rehavam Ze'evi 1.9% 2 New
Shinui Amnon Rubinstein 1.7% 2 -1
Degel HaTorah Avraham Ravitz 1.5% 2 New
Progressive List for Peace Mohammed Miari 1.5% 1 -1
Arab Democratic Party Abdulwahab Darawshe 1.2% 1 New
This lists parties that won seats. See the complete results below.
Prime Minister before Prime Minister after
Yitzhak Shamir Yitzhak Shamir
Yitzhak Shamir
Yitzhak Shamir




By July 1985 Israel's inflation, buttressed by complex index linking of salaries, had reached 480% per annum and was the highest in the world. Peres introduced emergency control of prices and cut government expenditure successfully bringing inflation under control. The currency (known as the Israeli lira until 1980) was replaced and renamed the Israeli new shekel.

Operation MosesEdit

The great famine of 1983–85 lead to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians from Northern Ethiopia to refugee camps in Northern Ethiopia and Sudan. Tens of thousands of Ethiopians were starving during that time. Among these victims, it is estimated that between 3,000 and 4,000 were members of the Beta Israel community. In late 1984, the Sudanese government, following the intervention of the U.S, allowed the emigration of 7,200 Beta Israel refugees to Europe who immediately flew from there to Israel. There two immigration waves were: Operation Moses which took place between 20 November 1984 until January 4, 1985, during which 6,500 people emigrated to Israel. This operation was followed by the Operation Joshua (also referred to as "Operation Queen of Sheba") a few weeks later, which was conducted by the CIA, in which the 650 Beta Israel refugees remaining in Sudan were evacuated to Israel. The second operation was mainly carried out due to the intervention and international pressure of the U.S.

The ongoing South Lebanon conflictEdit

In June 1985, Israel withdrew most of its troops from Lebanon, leaving a residual Israeli force and an Israeli-supported militia in southern Lebanon as a "security zone" and buffer against attacks on its northern territory.

Jibril AgreementEdit

Peres–Hussein London AgreementEdit

First IntifadaEdit

The continuing establishment of the Israeli settlements and continuing Israeli occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip led to the first Palestinian Intifada (uprising) in December 1987, which lasted until the Madrid Conference of 1991, despite Israeli attempts to suppress it. It was a partially spontaneous uprising, but by January 1988, it was already under the direction from the PLO headquarters in Tunis, which carried out ongoing terrorist attacks targeting Israeli civilians. The riots escalated daily throughout the territories and were especially severe in the Gaza Strip.

Election campaignEdit


Party Votes % Seats +/−
Likud 1 6 7 709,305 31.1 40 −1
Alignment 6 7 685,363 30.0 39 −5
Shas 2 107,709 4.7 6 +2
Agudat Yisrael 3 102,714 4.5 5 +2
Ratz 4 97,513 4.3 5 +2
National Religious Party 89,720 3.9 5 +1
Hadash 5 84,032 3.7 4 0
Tehiya 70,730 3.1 3 −2
Mapam 4 56,345 2.5 3 New
Tzomet 45,489 2.0 2 New
Moledet 44,174 1.9 2 New
Shinui 4 6 39,538 1.7 2 −1
Degel HaTorah 34,279 1.5 2 New
Progressive List for Peace 33,279 1.5 1 −1
Arab Democratic Party 27,012 1.2 1 New
Pensioners 16,674 0.7 0 New
Meimad 15,783 0.7 0 New
Derekh Aretz 4,253 0.2 0 New
Or Movement 4,182 0.2 0 New
Movement for Social Justice 3,222 0.1 0 New
Yishai – Tribal Israel Together 2,947 0.1 0 New
Movement for Moshavim 2,838 0.1 0 New
Tarshish 1,654 0.1 0 New
Silent Power 1,579 0.1 0 New
Movement for Demobilised Soldiers 1,018 0.0 0 New
Yemenite Association 909 0.0 0 New
Unity – for Victor Tayar to the Knesset 446 0.0 0 0
Invalid/blank votes 22,444
Total 2,305,567 100 120 0
Source: Nohlen et al.

1 Five members of the Likud left to form the Party for the Advancement of the Zionist Idea; after two returned, the party was renamed the New Liberal Party. One member moved from the Alignment to the Likud.

2 One MK left Shas and established Moria.

3 One MK left Agudat Yisrael and established Geulat Yisrael.

4 Ratz, Mapam, and Shinui merged into Meretz.

5 Black Panthers broke away from Hadash.

6 One member of Shinui joined Ratz, whilst an Alignment MK joined Shinui.

7 Efraim Gur left the Alignment to establish Unity for Peace and Immigration, which later merged into Likud.

The 12th KnessetEdit

Likud's Yitzhak Shamir formed the twenty-third government on 22 December 1988, including the Alignment, the National Religious Party, Shas, Agudat Yisrael and Degel HaTorah in his coalition, with 25 ministers.

In 1990 Shimon Peres tried to form an Alignment-led coalition in a move that became known as "the dirty trick", but failed to win sufficient support. Eventually Shamir formed the twenty-fourth government on 11 June 1990, with a coalition encompassing Likud, the National Religious Party, Shas, Agudat Yisrael, Degel HaTorah, the New Liberal Party, Tehiya, Tzomet, Moledet, Unity for Peace and Immigration and Geulat Yisrael. Tehiya, Tzomet and Moledet all left the coalition in late 1991/early 1992 in protest at Shamir's participation in the Madrid Conference.

The Twelfth Knesset saw the rise of the ultra-orthodox religious parties as a significant force in Israeli politics, and as a crucial "swing" element which could determine which of the large 2 secular parties (Likud, Alignment) would get to form the coalition government.


  1. ^ Dieter Nohlen, Florian Grotz & Christof Hartmann (2001) Elections in Asia: A data handbook, Volume I, p127 ISBN 0-19-924958-X

External linksEdit