Who are Israel's most - and least - libertarian lawmakers?

Which Israeli parties and MKs back civil liberties and limited government - and which do not? Israeli Freedom Index releases 2019 rankings.

David Rosenberg,

Bezalel Smotrich and Sharren Haskel
Bezalel Smotrich and Sharren Haskel
Gershon Elinson/Flash90

Which Israeli political parties and individual lawmakers worked to promote individual liberty and free markets during the nearly four-year term of the 20th Knesset – and which did not?

The Israeli Freedom Movement, a non-partisan libertarian-leaning organization, released its Knesset Freedom Index on Sunday, ranking Israeli lawmakers’ support for limited government and civil liberties, as measured by their voting record during the 20th Knesset.

According to the Freedom Index, all 12 of the parties ranked (Hatnuah and Labor were ranked separately following the dissolution of the Zionist Union joint list, as were the two factions which made up United Torah Judaism) received negative net rankings, placing them on the more authoritarian side of the political spectrum.

The highest-ranked parties were the Jewish Home and Likud, at negative 40 and negative 44 respectively, compared to an average party ranking of negative 89.4.

Agudat Yisrael, the Hasidic faction of the United Torah Judaism list, took the third spot with -67, while the left-leaning Hatnuah party of Tzipi Livni came in fourth, with -76.

The predominantly Arab Joint List party came in fifth with -81, while Yesh Atid and Kulanu were tied at -88 each.

The Sephardic haredi Shas party came in significantly below the average, with a net rating of -101, followed by Yisrael Beytenu with -113.

Degel Hatorah, the Lithuanian faction of UTJ and a partner with Agudat Yisrael, was tied for the second-lowest score, with -122, the same rating the Labor party received.

The far-left Meretz party came in last with -131.

The top five individual MKs, according to the Freedom Index, were all from the Likud and Jewish Home. Only two, Sharren Haskel and Amir Ohana, both members of the “liberal wing” of the Likud, had net positive ratings.

Haskel received a rating of 96, compared to 21 for MK Ohana, and -5 for Avi Dichter. National Union chairman Bezalel Smotrich, whose party ran in a joint list with the Jewish Home, came in fourth with -10, while Likud MK Benny Begin rounded out the top five with a score of -11.

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid came in sixth with -20, followed by Eyal Ben-Reuven (Hatnuah), Hanin Zoabi (Joint List), Yisrael Eichler (Agudat Yisrael), and Tzipi Livni (Hatnuah).

The least liberty-oriented lawmaker, according to the index, is Itzik Shmuli (Labor) at -303, followed by the Joint List’s lone Jewish MK, Dov Henin, a member of the Hadash Communist party, with -280.

Eitan Cabel (Labor) came in third from the bottom with -189, followed by Meretz’s Tamar Zandberg with -177 and Nahman Shai (Labor) with -167.