Merger Forms Labor Party Prime Minister Golda Meir pictured with President Nixon during her visit to the White House in 1969. Photo: AP

January 21, 1968

Three parties in the Knesset — Mapai, Ahdut Ha’avoda and Rafi — join with the Histadrut to form the Labor Party. The secretary general of Mapai, Golda Meir, agrees to chair the foundation conference.

The largest of the three parties is Mapai, which has led every Israeli government coalition and provided every prime minister in the first 20 years of the state. Ahdut Ha’avoda is the oldest center-left party, founded in 1919 under the leadership of David Ben-Gurion. Ben-Gurion, the longtime Mapai leader, also founded Rafi in 1965 as a breakaway from Mapai over the Lavon Affair and over plans to merge Mapai and Ahdut Ha’avoda. Moshe Dayan, Shimon Peres and Chaim Herzog joined him in Rafi. But by 1968, all three parties recognize the inevitability of a merger, although Ben-Gurion doesn’t join the new Labor Party.

Labor forms a left-leaning electoral list with Mapam before the 1969 election, and that list, known as Alignment, leads Israel’s governing coalitions until Likud’s surprise victory in the 1977 Knesset election. Labor members who have served as prime minister are Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak.

Labor remains the most prominent party on the Israeli left, promoting the social and economic welfare of all Israelis while seeking a comprehensive peace with the Palestinians and the rest of the region.