MK Sharren Haskel
MK Sharren HaskelYonatan Sindel / Flash 90

Which party in the present Knesset is the most liberal? According to a new index of the 20th Knesset by an Israeli think tank, the answer may not be what you’d expect.

Each year, the Israeli Freedom Movement ranks parties with Knesset representation and MKs in the current Knesset, based on their adherence to and active support for legislation and policies which “advance the values of personal freedom and the free market”.

This year, the IFM’s Liberty Index ranked the Likud as the strongest defender of personal freedom, giving them a positive score of 4.

According to the IFM, which advocates a “classical liberalism” of free markets and personal freedom from state coercion, the only other party with a positive ranking is the Jewish Home, which came in second with a score of 2.

The remaining eight Knesset parties all ranked in negative territory, with the haredi United Torah Judaism and secular center-right Kulanu tying for third with negative 4 each. The Sephardic haredi party Shas came in fifth with -16, followed by Defense Minister’s Yisrael Beytenu with -20, and the predominantly Arab Joint List with -23.

Former Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party ranked towards the bottom with -40, tying with the far-left Meretz faction, and just slightly ahead of the Labor party, which came in dead last with negative 45.

The index, which was released last Friday, showed a significant decline in the Jewish Home’s ranking compared to 2016, along with marginal increases for the Joint List and Meretz parties. While the Jewish Home had an average score of just 2 this year, last year the faction had a score of 14. The Likud also scored higher in 2016, with an average of 8.8, compared to 4 this year.

In 2016, Meretz scored -63.2, with the Joint List close behind at -62. Labor had an almost identical rating of -46.16, compared to -45 this year.

The three highest ranking individual MKs all came from the Likud this year, with Canadian-born Sharren Haskel on top with a score of 34, followed by gun-rights advocate Amir Ohana with 25, and former minister Benny Begin with 11.

This marks the fourth year in a row Haskel has topped the IFM’s Liberty Index.

“I’m proud to top the Liberty Index for the fourth time,” Haskel said, according to Talniri.

“These [classical liberal] values are the basis of my activities in the Knesset, and they are a central part of the ideology that guides me. Staying true to the principles of liberty has caused me to be sanctioned on more than one occasion; but I didn’t give up and I continued to fight for individual liberty, economic [liberty], and national [liberty].”