Religious Zionist Party

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Religious Zionist Party
הציונות הדתית
ChairmanBezalel Smotrich
Secretary-GeneralOfir Sofer
FoundersHanan Porat
Zvi Hendel
Split fromNational Religious Party
Merged intoNational Religious Party–Religious Zionism
HeadquartersBeit HaShenhav Building, Jerusalem, Israel
Political positionFar-right[1][2][9][10][11][12]
National affiliationNational Union (1999–2013)
The Jewish Home (2013–2019)
URWP (2019)[13]
Yamina (2019, 2020–2021)
Member partiesOtzma Yehudit (formerly)
Noam (formerly)
Most MKs7 (2022)
Election symbol


The Religious Zionist Party (Hebrew: הציונות הדתית, romanizedHaTzionut HaDatit, lit.'The Religious Zionism'), known as Tkuma (Hebrew: תקומה, lit.'Revival')[15] until 2021 and was officially known as National Union–Tkuma (Hebrew: האיחוד הלאומי-תקומה, HaIchud HaLeumi–Tkuma),[16] was a far-right,[1][2] ultra-nationalist,[2] Jewish supremacist,[2] and religious Zionist[1][2] political party in Israel.[17] In all the elections since its founding in 1998, the party had joined other factions and competed as part of a united list. In 2023, the Religious Zionist Party and The Jewish Home agreed to merge to become National Religious Party–Religious Zionism.[18]


Tkuma was established by Hanan Porat and Zvi Hendel in 1998. The pair left the National Religious Party in reaction to the Wye River Memorandum.[19] Almost immediately after the creation of Tkuma, it joined together with Moledet and Herut – The National Movement, to form the National Union, a right-wing coalition which won four seats in the 1999 elections, with only one of those seats going to Tkuma. These elections were a failure for the right-wing bloc, and were won by Ehud Barak, leaving the National Union and Tkuma in the opposition.[20] In February 2000, Yisrael Beiteinu joined the National Union, alongside Tkuma, and the two parties joined Ariel Sharon's first government in 2001. One year later, Tkuma and the rest of the National Union left Sharon's government over disagreements over the handling of the Second Intifada. For the 2003 elections, the National Union kept its alliance with Yisrael Beiteinu, with its increased support helping to win seven seats for the entire list, and two for Tkuma. The party was included in Ariel Sharon's coalition, alongside Likud, Shinui, the National Religious Party, and Yisrael BaAliyah.[21]

Because of tensions over the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip (Tkuma was ideologically opposed, and Hendel lived in the Gaza settlement of Ganei Tal), National Union ministers Binyamin Elon and Avigdor Lieberman were sacked, and the party left the coalition. However, the National Union was bolstered by the addition of Ahi, which had split off from the National Religious Party when they decided to remain in the coalition.[22]

Before the 2006 elections, the alliance between the National Union and Yisrael Beiteinu was dissolved, and a new alliance between the National Union and the National Religious Party was formed, which won nine seats, two of which were allocated to Tkuma and taken by Hendel and Uri Ariel.[23]

On 3 November 2008, ahead of the 2009 elections, Tkuma faced a crisis. The party itself announced that it would unite with Ahi, the National Religious Party, and Moledet, to form a new right-wing party,[24] which was later named the Jewish Home. However, around half of the former Tkuma members later left the new party to re-establish Tkuma and rejoin the National Union alongside Moledet, Hatikva, and Eretz Yisrael Shelanu.[25] In the elections themselves, the National Union got four seats, with Tkuma getting two seats.

Initial logo of the united list of The Jewish Home and the National Union

Ahead of the 2013 elections, the National Union split, with all member parties except for Tkuma splitting off to form Otzma LeYisrael, leaving Tkuma as the only party left in the National Union. Tkuma proceeded to change its name to "National Union–Tkuma", appropriating the National Union name. The party opted to run as part of the Jewish Home list for the 2013 elections. The Jewish Home won 12 seats, four of which (Ariel, Ben-Dahan, Kalfa, and Strook) were members of Tkuma. The party decided to continue its alliance with the Jewish Home for the 2015 Knesset elections,[26] taking the 2nd, 8th, 13th, and 17th spots on the joint list.[27] The Jewish Home dropped to eight seats in that election.[28]

Old logo utilized by the party as "National Union" until 2021

In 2019 Bezalel Smotrich took over party leadership, winning party elections in a landslide against Ariel.[29] Ahead of the April 2019 elections, the party joined with the Jewish Home and Otzma Yehudit to create the Union of Right-Wing Parties, which won five seats in the elections,[30] two of which went to National Union–Tkuma.[citation needed]

Ahead of the September 2019 elections, Tkuma and the Jewish Home agreed to form an alliance with the New Right, called Yamina,[31] with Tkuma leader Smotrich receiving the third spot on the joint list.[32]

Yamina officially split on 10 October 2019 into two Knesset factions – the New Right, and the Jewish Home–National Union.[33] For the 2020 elections, Otzma Yehudit and The Jewish Home agreed on 20 December to run together,[34] in an alliance later named the United Jewish Home.[35] Smotrich was critical of the move, stating that it was unlikely that the alliance would pass the electoral threshold.[36] Tkuma, The Jewish Home, and the New Right reformed Yamina on 15 January 2020.[37] On 22 April 2020 it was reported that Yamina leader Naftali Bennett was now "considering all options" for Yamina's political future, including departing from Netanyahu's government, which had just agreed to a coalition government with the leader of the opposition Blue and White party, Benny Gantz, and joining the opposition. Bennett was said to be unhappy with the new coalition government's decision to hold back on the issue of judicial reform.[38]

On 14 May 2020 The Jewish Home's only Knesset member, Rafi Peretz, ended his status as a member of Yamina, and agreed to join Netanyahu's new government as well.[39][40] On 15 May, Tkuma, along with the New Right, split with Netanyahu and made the Yamina alliance a member of the opposition. On 17 May 2020 Bennett met with Gantz, who also succeeded him as defence minister, and declared that the Yamina party would be a member of the opposition, with its "head held high".[41] Tkuma was renamed on 7 January,[17] while it ended its membership in Yamina on 20 January 2021.[42]

Logo used in the 2021 Knesset elections as part of the rebranding of National Union party

In February 2021 the party agreed to run a shared list for the 2021 Knesset elections with Noam and Otzma Yehudit.[43] The list ran under the Religious Zionist Party name and won six seats,[44] four of which were filled by Religious Zionist Party members.[citation needed] On 14 June, after the swearing-in of the 36th government, MK Ofir Sofer split from the Likud faction and merged into the Religious Zionist Party, increasing the number of seats held by the party to seven. He had run during the election as part of the Likud list for Knesset, as a member of Atid Ehad party, using it as a shelf party (a dormant, but still-registered, party brought back into use).[45][46]

The Religious Zionist Party, Noam and Otzma Yehudit submitted a single list on 14 September 2022 ahead of the 2022 Israeli legislative election.[47] The parties split into three parties in the Knesset on 20 November 2022.[48]


The Religious Zionist Party is opposed to any territorial concessions to Palestinian or Syrian claims for land. Some members support the annexation of the entire West Bank, though the official policy of the Jewish Home parliamentary faction, of which the party was aligned between 2013 and 2019, only supports annexation of Area C of the West Bank, which makes up the 63% of land in the West Bank allocated to Israel in the Oslo Accords.[49][50] The party is opposed to recognition of same-sex marriage on a religious basis.[51] The party advocates for increased funding for Torah study and religious education.[52] Jewish-American columnist David E. Rosenberg has stated that the Religious Zionist Party's "platform includes things like annexation of West Bank settlements, expulsion of asylum-seekers, and political control of the judicial system".[2] He further described the Religious Zionist Party as a political party "driven by Jewish supremacy and anti-Arab racism".[2] The party has been assessed by The Middle East Journal as "militantly anti-Arab" and far-right.[1]


Leader Took office Left office
1 Hanan Porat 1998 1999
2 Zvi Hendel 1999 2009
3 Ya'akov Katz 2009 2012
4 Uri Ariel 2012 2019
5 Bezalel Smotrich 2019 2023

Election results[edit]

Election Leader Votes % Seats +/– Status
1999 Hanan Porat Part of the National Union
1 / 120
Opposition (1999-2001)
Coalition (2001-2003)
2003 Zvi Hendel Part of the National Union
2 / 120
Increase 1 Coalition (2003-2004)
Opposition (2004-2006)
2006 Part of the NUNRP
2 / 120
Steady Opposition
2009 Ya'akov Katz Part of the National Union
2 / 120
Steady Opposition
2013 Uri Ariel Part of the Jewish Home
4 / 120
Increase 2 Coalition
2015 Part of the Jewish Home
2 / 120
Decrease 2 Coalition
Apr 2019 Bezalel Smotrich Part of the URWP
2 / 120
Steady Snap election
Sep 2019 Part of Yamina
2 / 120
Steady Snap election
2020 Part of Yamina
2 / 120
Steady Opposition
2021[a] 225,641 5.12
4 / 120
Increase 2 Opposition
2022[b] 516,146 10.83
7 / 120
Increase 3 Coalition

Knesset members list[edit]

Knesset term Seats Members
2015–2019 2 Uri Ariel, Bezalel Smotrich
2019 2 Bezalel Smotrich, Ofir Sofer
2019–2020 2 Bezalel Smotrich, Ofir Sofer
2020–2021 2 Bezalel Smotrich, Ofir Sofer
2021–2022 5 Bezalel Smotrich, Michal Waldiger, Simcha Rothman, Orit Strook, Ofir Sofer[c]
2022–2023 7 Bezalel Smotrich, Ofir Sofer, Orit Strook, Simcha Rothman, Michal Waldiger, Ohad Tal, Moshe Solomon, Zvi Sukkot (replaced Smotrich on 5 February 2023)[53]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Otzma Yehudit and Noam ran on the Religious Zionist Party list; the entire list won six seats, with Otzma Yehudit and Noam winning one each
  2. ^ Otzma Yehudit and Noam ran on the Religious Zionist Party list; the entire list won fourteen seats, with Otzma Yehudit winning six and Noam winning one
  3. ^ Joined during the Knesset term.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Oren, Neta; Waxman, Do (2022–2023). "King Bibi" and Israeli Illiberalism: Assessing Democratic Backsliding in Israel during the Second Netanyahu Era (2009–2021)". The Middle East Journal. Washington, D.C.: Middle East Institute. 76 (3): 303–326. doi:10.3751/76.3.11. ISSN 1940-3461. LCCN 48002240. OCLC 1607025. S2CID 256106816. ... a political backlash that helped a militantly anti-Arab, far-right Religious Zionist Party to become the third-largest faction ...
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Rosenberg, David E. (30 October 2022). "What Makes Israel's Far Right Different". Foreign Policy. Washington, D.C.: Graham Holdings Company. ISSN 0015-7228. Archived from the original on 8 November 2022. Retrieved 9 May 2023.
  3. ^ Sharon, Jeremy (10 July 2022). "Court rules online civil marriages valid, upending Israel's religious status quo". The Times of Israel. Jerusalem. ISSN 0040-7909. OCLC 1076401854. Archived from the original on 11 April 2023. Retrieved 9 May 2023.
  4. ^ Hoffman, Gil; Sharon, Jeremy (9 August 2019). "Ayelet Shaked tells "Post" about the dramatic turnaround in her career". The Jerusalem Post. ISSN 0792-822X. OCLC 15700704. Archived from the original on 14 March 2023. Retrieved 9 May 2023.
  5. ^ "Election Polls: 6-14 Seats for Bennett and Shaked's New Right-wing Party, Labor Party Crashes". Haaretz. 30 December 2018.
  6. ^ "Israel elections: Netanyahu set for comeback with far right's help - partial results". BBC News. 1 November 2022.
  7. ^ Krauss, Joseph (23 March 2021). "Far-right party set to gain new influence after Israeli vote". Associated Press. New York City. Archived from the original on 6 December 2022. Retrieved 9 May 2023.
  8. ^ "Kahanism Won. Israel Is Now Closing in on a Right-wing, Religious, Authoritarian Revolution". Haaretz. Tel Aviv. 2 November 2022. Retrieved 9 May 2023.
  9. ^ "Israel Election Poll: Far-right Party Allied With Kahanists Gains a Seat at Netanyahu's Expense". Haaretz. Tel Aviv. 14 March 2021. Archived from the original on 22 September 2022. Retrieved 9 May 2023.
  10. ^ Boxerman, Aaron (3 June 2021). "History made as Arab Israeli Ra'am party joins Bennett-Lapid coalition". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 9 March 2022.
  11. ^ Sharon, Jeremy (25 March 2021). "Israel Elections: What is the Religious Zionist Party's agenda?". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 26 December 2022.
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  13. ^ Hezki Baruch (21 February 2019). ""Union of the Right-Wing Parties" submits Knesset list". Israel National News. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
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  15. ^ "Tkuma (Revival: The First 50 Years) 22 Chapters".
  16. ^ "הציונות הדתית בראשות בצלאל סמוטריץ'". Central Election Committee for the Knesset.
  17. ^ a b Hoffman, Gil (7 January 2021). "'Post' poll shows mergers capable of bringing down Netanyahu". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
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  19. ^ "Parliamentary Groups in the Knesset".
  20. ^ "Israeli Election Results- May 1999".
  21. ^ "Factional and Government Make-Up of the Sixteenth Knesset".
  22. ^ Shulman, Robin (5 June 2004). "Sharon Fires Two Who Oppose Gaza Plan". The Washington Post.
  23. ^ "Mergers and Splits Among Parliamentary Groups".
  24. ^ Meranda, Amnon (3 November 2008). "Right-wing parties unite". Yedioth Ahronoth. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  25. ^ Selig, Abe (24 December 2008). "Hatikva Party courts Tkuma as hard-line factions fracture". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  26. ^ Ezra, Hezki (20 December 2014). "Tekuma Decides: No Split from Jewish Home". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  27. ^ Avi Lewis (12 January 2015). "Jewish Home faction Tekumah selects Knesset candidates". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  28. ^ "ועדת הבחירות המרכזית לכנסת ה-20 | תוצאות ארציות". 18 March 2015. Archived from the original on 18 March 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  29. ^ Magid, Jacob (14 January 2019). "Hardliner Smotrich wins race to lead influential Jewish Home sub-faction". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  30. ^ Staff writer (20 June 2019). "Far-right Otzma Yehudit accuses Jewish Home of not honoring election pact". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  31. ^ Staff writer (12 August 2019). "United Right to run under name 'Yemina'". Arutz Sheva.
  32. ^ Staff (29 July 2019). "New Right, United Right reach final agreement on joint run". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  33. ^ Wootliff, Raoul (10 October 2019). "Yamina party officially splits into New Right, Jewish Home-National Union". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  34. ^ Tercatin, Rossella (20 December 2019). "Religious Zionist Bayit Yehudi and far-right Otzma Yehudit to run together". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  35. ^ "Jewish Home-Otzma Yehudit alliance reveals new name, logo". The Times of Israel. 31 December 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  36. ^ Magid, Jacob (31 December 2019). "Smotrich says he won't join Jewish Home-Otzma Yehudit merger "at any cost"". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  37. ^ Staff writer (15 January 2020). "Bennett, Peretz, Smotrich agree to joint run without Ben Gvir". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  38. ^ Wootliff, Raoul (22 April 2020). "Netanyahu speaks with Bennett as Yamina considers joining unity government". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  39. ^ Ben Porat, Ido (15 May 2020). "Rabbi Rafi Peretz signs coalition agreement with the Likud". Arutz Sheva.
  40. ^ Weiss, Yoni (14 May 2020). "Minister Rafi Peretz Leaves Yamina to Join New Government". Hamodia.
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  42. ^ Hoffman, Gil (20 January 2021). "Bennett's Yamina party formally splits". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  43. ^ Staff writer (3 February 2021). "Religious Zionist, Otzma Yehudit parties to run together". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  44. ^ Nir Kafri; Alexandra Vardi (6 April 2021). "As anti-gay MKs sworn in, activists fear 'step backwards' on LGBT rights". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 17 October 2023.
  45. ^ "Official: Ofir Sofer returns to the Religious Zionist Party". Srugim (in Hebrew). 14 June 2021.
  46. ^ "Ophir Sofer returns, Yamina waiting for Shai Maimon". Arutz 7 (in Hebrew). 14 June 2021.
  47. ^ Carrie Keller-Lynn (14 September 2022). "National Unity, Religious Zionism and Yisrael Beytenu submit final candidate lists". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  48. ^ "After joint run, Religious Zionism party splits into three factions". The Times of Israel. 20 November 2022. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  49. ^ Ahren, Raphael (12 March 2015). "From annexation to right of return: What the parties say about the Palestinians". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  50. ^ Shamir, Michal; Rahat, Gideon (23 May 2017). The Elections in Israel 2015. Routledge. ISBN 9781351621083.
  51. ^ Nachshoni, Kobi (3 October 2018). "Religious-Zionist rabbi: LGBT culture is a 'spreading sickness'". Yedioth Ahronoth. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  52. ^ "About the party". Retrieved 26 December 2022.
  53. ^ "Far-right Settler Leader Becomes MK Under Law to Expand Size of Government". Haaretz. 5 February 2023. Retrieved 16 October 2023.

External links[edit]