13 diverse parties will reign over Knessets 120 seats

JERUSALEM — Of the nearly 30 political parties that vied in Israel's general elections on Tuesday, fewer than half made it into the Knesset.

With nearly all the votes counted, 13 parties have won at least 1.5 percent of the vote, the threshold for getting at least one of the Knesset's 120 seats.

Following is a guide to the parties that will be in the 16th Knesset:

*Likud: The odds-on favorite throughout the campaign, the party won 37 seats Tuesday, up from 19 in the outgoing Knesset. It will have nearly twice as many seats as the next-largest party, Labor.

Traditionally, Likud has been reluctant to make territorial concessions to the Palestinians and has balked at allowing a Palestinian state. As prime minister, Ariel Sharon has agreed to make "painful concessions" but only after the Palestinians completely cease and renounce terrorism.

*Labor: Labor had the largest number of seats, 25, in the outgoing Knesset. Following Tuesday's vote, however, Labor will have only 19 seats in the next Knesset, a devastating blow for the party that led Israel for the first 29 years of the country's existence.

*Shinui: This secular party is the Cinderella story of the election. Under the leadership of former journalist Yosef "Tommy" Lapid, the party leapt from six to 15 Knesset seats, making it the third strongest political force in the next Knesset.

Lapid's main agenda is anti-clerical. He calls for the creation of a secular government with no religious parties. He is considered liberal on economic issues and center-right on the Palestinian issue.

*Shas: The fervently religious Sephardi party won 11 seats Tuesday, down from 17, losing its place as Israel's third largest party.

Shas seeks support for Orthodox causes and generous state funding for poorer Israelis. A member of past coalitions led by Labor and Likud, Shas had been flexible on the peace process but adopted a more hawkish stance after the intifada began in September 2000.

*National Union: Led by Avigdor Lieberman, this hawkish bloc won seven seats, the same as in the outgoing Knesset. The party opposes any concessions to the Palestinians.

*Meretz: The dovish secular party won six seats, down from 10 in the outgoing Knesset.

Party leader Yossi Sarid resigned as Meretz leader on Wednesday following the party's poor showing. He still may stay on as a Knesset member.

Under Sarid's leadership, the party called for Jerusalem to become the shared capital of both Israel and an eventual Palestinian state. It also called for the evacuation of most Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The party also has been at the forefront of the fight for religious pluralism and good government in Israel.

*The National Religious Party: This pro-settler party retained its current five seats in the next Knesset. Considered the main political force behind the settlement movement, the party opposes territorial concessions to the Palestinians.

*United Torah Judaism: This fervently religous bloc, which includes the Agudat Yisrael and Degel HaTorah parties, also retained its five Knesset seats. The party opposes drafting yeshiva students and strongly objects to any changes in Shabbat laws.

*One Nation: This workers-rights party seeks to close the economic gap between the haves and have-nots. It won four seats on Tuesday, up from two in the current Knesset.

*Hadash-Ta'al: This is the latest coalition in the Israeli Arab sector, combining the Communist-led Hadash, under the leadership of Mohammed Barakeh, with Ahmed Tibi's Ta'al movement. The two parties have four Knesset members in the incoming Knesset, the same as before.

*Balad: The nationalist, pan-Arabist movement is chaired by Azmi Beshara, who calls for Israel to become a country of "all its citizens'' — that is, not a Jewish state per se. Beshara was the only member of the party serving in the outgoing Knesset, but Balad won two additional seats in the elections.

*Yisrael Ba'Aliyah: This immigrant-rights party, which held four seats in the outgoing Knesset, will have to settle for two in the next. Apart from fighting for the rights of new immigrants, the party says a Palestinian state should be created only when it will be democratic, transparent and peaceful.

*United Arab List: A coalition of the Arab Democratic Party and the less radical wing of the Islamic Movement, it will have two seats in the new Knesset, down from five.