Progressive Party (Israel)

The Progressive Party (Hebrew: מִפְלָגָה פְּרוֹגְרֶסִיבִית, Miflaga Progresivit) was a liberal political party in Israel.

Progressive Party
מפלגה פרוגרסיבית
LeaderPinchas Rosen
Dissolved8 May 1961
Merger ofNew Aliyah Party
HaOved HaTzioni
Merged intoLiberal Party
Social liberalism[1][2]
Political positionCenter
Most MKs6 (1959–1961)
Fewest MKs4 (1951–1955)
Election symbol



The Progressive Party was a liberal party, most of whose founders came from the ranks of the New Aliyah Party and HaOved HaTzioni, which had been active prior to independence. It consisted primarily of immigrants from Central Europe.

It was formed by three groups: First, and most numerous, was the mostly Central European, middle class New Aliyah Party, which generally took a liberal position on social issues. Second was HaOved HaTzioni, a non-socialist trade union in the Histadrut that rejected the idea of class struggle. Last was "group A" of the General Zionists, which was made up of artisans, small farmers, and members of the liberal professions, and which unlike "group B" was left-of-center and oriented toward the Histadrut.[3] The Progressives favored private investment and shifting control over essential services and welfare functions from the Histadrut to the state. Although they were not socialists, they were intellectually sympathetic to socialist aspirations and open to cooperating with Mapai in a coalition government.[3]

In the 1949 Constituent Assembly elections the party gained won seats, with Idov Cohen, Yeshayahu Forder, Avraham Granot, Yizhar Harari and Pinchas Rosen taking their place as Members of the Knesset (MKs). They joined the government as a coalition partner of David Ben-Gurion's Mapai party, and were members of both the first and second governments of Israel.

In the 1951 elections the party lost a seat and dropped to four MKs. They were not included in Ben-Gurion's original coalition, but were brought into the fourth government as a replacement for the ultra-orthodox parties Agudat Yisrael and Poalei Agudat Yisrael, who had resigned over religious education issues. They were also a coalition partner in the fifth government (created when Ben-Gurion resigned and was replaced by Moshe Sharett), but were dropped from the sixth government after a motion of no confidence had been brought against the ruling Mapai-led coalition.

The Progressive Party regained their original strength at the 1955 elections, returning to five seats, and were members both the seventh and eighth governments, headed by the returning Ben-Gurion.

Liberal International (LI) maintained contacts with both the Progressive Party and the General Zionists in the 1950s.[4] The Progressive Party applied for affiliation at Liberal International's 1955 Lucerne congress and was accepted. This was on the condition that the Progressives would not object to the General Zionist party's affiliation when it decided to apply, which the Progressives willingly accepted (the General Zionists affiliated several years later).[5] Yeshayahu Foerder represented the Progressive Party at the following LI congress in Stresa in 1956, and brought a draft resolution on the Israeli–Egyptian conflict. After discussion, the LI accepted the resolution without change, marking the first time the LI had voted, at the specific request of a member group, a resolution involving that group's national interest. The resolution was moderate and had been discussed with the Liberal International Executive. It called on the United Nations for greater efforts to maintain strict observance of the Middle East armistice terms and to negotiate a comprehensive settlement securing the territorial integrity of all the states involved.[5]

In the 1959 elections the party gained another seat, their representation rising to six MKs. Again they joined Ben-Gurion's coalition. On 8 May 1961 the party merged with the General Zionists to form the Liberal Party.[6] It was the motion of no confidence brought by the new Liberal Party and Herut that brought down the government.

The 1961 elections saw the Liberal Party become the third largest in the Knesset, though they did not join the coalition. Later in the session, the majority of the Liberal Party MKs merged with Herut to form Gahal (which later became Likud in 1973). However, the MKs that agreed with the merger were largely previous members of the General Zionists. Most former Progressive Party MKs objected to the alliance with Herut and set up the Independent Liberals instead.


Leader Took office Left office
1   Pinchas Rosen 1949 1961

Knesset election results

Election Leader Votes % Place Seats won +/−
1949 Pinchas Rosen 17,786 4.1 6th
5 / 120
1951 22,171 3.2 7th
4 / 120
1955 37,661 4.4 9th
5 / 120
1959 44,889 4.6 8th
6 / 120
1961 Part of the Liberal Party
10 / 120

See also



  1. ^ Israeli legislative election, 1949
  2. ^ a b Goldstein, Amir (Spring 2011). "'We Have a Rendezvous With Destiny'—The Rise and Fall of the Liberal Alternative". Israel Studies. 16 (1): 27, 32, 47. doi:10.2979/isr.2011.16.1.26. S2CID 143487617. Thus, the PP continued to represent mostly white collar and government workers, intellectuals, and the labor intelligentsia, all of whom favored the social liberalism, broadly-based universal views, and social and religious pluralism that the party stood for.⁴(27); Kol wrote to Goldmann...: 'But the party must be founded on a clear ideological basis, and no such basis exists between our progressive humanistic liberalism and Herut.'²⁰(32); Kol emphasized that, 'The Herut Movement and social liberalism cannot dwell together in the same house.'(47)
  3. ^ a b c Ervin Birnbaum (1970). The Politics of Compromise: State and Religion in Israel. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. pp. 60, 66–67. ISBN 08386-7567-0.
  4. ^ Julie Smith (1997). A Sense of Liberty: The History of the Liberal International, 1847-1997. Liberal International. p. 45. Contacts with Israeli Liberals were complicated by domestic party divisions within the Israeli Party. LI had contacts with the Progressive Party and the General Zionist Party in the 1950s; a united Liberal Party was created in 1961 and joined LI. Then in 1965, following further domestic political change, the party split and the two offshoots, the Liberal Party (formerly the General Zionists) and the Independent Liberal Party (formerly Progressives), agreed that Israeli participation should be shared equally between them.
  5. ^ a b John H. MacCallum Scott (1967). Experiment in Internationalism: A Study in International Politics. George Allen & Unwin. p. 159. ISBN 9780043270202. It was perhaps less of a coincidence than a reflection of tightening world relationships that it was at Stresa that the Israeli liberals first played an effective part in the International's work. Their affiliation had been accepted in Lucerne the previous year, when their delegate had contented himself with playing a formal 'new boy's' part in the proceedings. Negotiations had been going on since 1952. There were two Israeli parties which claimed to be liberal, the General Zionists and the Progressive Party, and the situation between them was broadly similar to that between the Venstre and Radikale Venstre parties in Denmark. The similarity even went so far that, as had happened in Denmark, it was the smaller and more left-inclined Progressive Party that took the first plunge and applied for affiliation in Lucerne. (This was on the strict under standing, willingly accepted, that it would not object to the affiliation of the General Zionists when they too decided that the waters of internationalism were bearable).(1) {1. The General Zionists affiliated several years later. Subsequently the two parties merged into the Israeli Liberal Party. Later still they split apart again (into the Liberal Party (Zionist) and the Independent Liberal Party (Progressive), but both sections continue to belong to the International.}
  6. ^ "Mergers and Splits Among Parliamentary Groups". Knesset website