Elections for the twenty-first Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) will be held on the 9th of April. This is very exciting news for libertarians, especially those in Israel, as we have the newly-formed Zehut party taking part in their first election since being founded in 2015. This is by far the most libertarian party in Israel.
The Zehut platform currently is:
- Opposition to coercion of all kinds: religious, anti-religious, economic, cultural, or educational.
- Small government and the minimization of state intervention in the life and liberty of private citizens.
- Reforming education in Israel to follow the school voucher system.
- Reduction of housing prices through land privatization, removal of planning and building committees, and increased construction in Judea and Samaria (West Bank).
- Gradual transition to a professional volunteer army.
- Jewish sovereignty in all parts of the Land of Israel, and encouragement of voluntary emigration of the Arabs in Judea and Samaria. Arabs who choose to remain may do so as permanent residents after proving their loyalty to the Jewish state. The option of receiving Israeli citizenship will be given after a protracted cooling-off period and compliance with conditions to be specified.
- Gradual legalization of cannabis, based on the model employed in Colorado and other states in the US
While many may be dismayed by number six, compared to the current state of politics in Israel, it is a much more nuanced approach to the Israeli-Arab conflict than current solutions, like those proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party. Currently the Knesset’s 120 seats are divided as follows, from the largest number of seats to the least, along with their ideological views and leader:
- Likud (30 seats, Benjamin Netanyahu): National liberalism, economic liberalism, revisionist Zionism
- Zionist Union (24 seats, Avi Gabbay): Social liberalism, progressivism, labor Zionism
- Joint List (13 seats, Ayman Odeh): Israeli-Arab interests, anti-Zionism, big tent (catch all for Israeli-Arab voters)
- Yesh Atid (11 seats, Yair Lapid): Liberal Zionism, Israeli secularism, centrism
- Kulanu (10 seats, Moshe Kahlon): Social liberalism, consumer protection, and liberal Zionism
- The Jewish Home (8 seats, Naftali Bennett): Religious Zionism, settler interests
- Shas (7 seats, Aryeh Deri): Sephardic-Mizrahi interests, Haredi interests, Orthodox Halacha (Jewish law), religious conservatism, non-Zionism
- United Torah Judaism (6 seats, Yaakov Litzman): Ashkenazi interests, Haredi interests, Orthodox Halacha, religious conservatism, non-Zionism
- Yisrael Beiteinu (5 seats, Avigdor Lieberman): Russian speakers’ interests, national conservatism
- Meretz (5 seats, Tamar Zandberg): Social democracy, green politics, labor Zionism
Having looked at the current makeup of the Israeli Knesset and compared them to the Zehut platform, we can very clearly see that Zehut may be an extremely nice and fresh breath of air. Israel is heavily burdened by decades of socialist policies, having only begun liberalizing the economy three decades ago.
The state of healthcare in Israel, however, is atrocious (to which I can personally attest in this article I wrote several years ago), and the import and export tax is very high (a Jeep Wrangler can easily cost the equivalent of 1.75-2 times the price in the US, purely for importation and other taxes).
In addition, there are so many regulations in the economy that it’s hard to run a business. The cost of living is extremely high, and just the amount of taxes, in general, raises the costs on many things. Not to mention, Israel needs to change the way their military works. Mandatory conscription is still a thing in Israel, and the welfare state is too large. Israel is in dire need of liberalization economically, militarily, and socially.
You can read more from Alon Ganon on Think Liberty here.