GAḤAL (acronym for Hebrew Gush Ḥerut Liberalim (Ḥerut-Liberal Bloc)). Israeli parliamentary group established towards the end of the term of the Fifth Knesset in 1965 by two opposition parties, the *Ḥerut Movement and the Israel Liberal Party. The two parties agreed that while maintaining separate political organizations, they would act as a single parliamentary group and run in a single list in the elections to the Sixth Knesset, with Menaḥem *Begin as its leader. The new alignment moved the Herut Movement, which for 17 years had been Israel's most extreme right-wing party and had existed more or less in total political isolation, to the center of the political spectrum, providing it with legitimization in wider parts of the population. Not all the members of the Liberal Party joined Gaḥal, as its members who had previously belonged to the Progressive Party preferred to form a new parliamentary group and party under the name *Independent Liberal Party. Within Gahal, as within the *Likud later on, the Liberal Party component advanced the line of economic liberalism. At the end of the Fifth Knesset the Gaḥal parliamentary group had 27 seats. In the elections to the Sixth Knesset in 1965 it received 26 seats, losing four in the course of the Knesset's term. Upon the outbreak of the Six-Day War Gaḥal joined the coalition under Levi *Eshkol with two of its members, Menaḥem Begin and Yosef *Sapir, becoming ministers without portfolio. In the elections to the Seventh Knesset in 1969 Gaḥal received 26 seats, also increasing its strength in the municipal elections and in the elections to the *Histadrut conference. In the new government formed after the elections by Golda *Meir, Gaḥal was represented by six ministers, of whom two, Begin and Arie *Dulzin, were without portfolio. Gaḥal resigned from the coalition in August 1970 after the Meir government expressed willingness to accept the Rogers Plan, which was based on the principle of territories for peace. Prior to the elections to the Eighth Knesset the Ḥerut Movement and Liberal Party decided to establish a new list together with several other parties and groups, which was called the *Likud.
[Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.