On October 28, 1969, Israel held its seventh parliamentary election since independence. The election was overshadowed by the international situation and by the defense requirements of the War of Attrition. The usually raucous political campaign was more subdued than previous ones, in part because of the national unity government in place since 1967 that continued to function and to blunt the often public acrimonious debates that generally characterized political life in Israel.
The future of the territories captured during the war and their administration in the interim was widely considered. Israel now held a large amount of territory with a substantial and growing Arab population.
On one hand this meant the availability of manpower and markets for the economy, but there were also the economic costs of administering the territories. The defense budget grew dramatically as well. The United States increasingly emerged as an important factor in Israel’s quest for peace as well as a strategic partner and provisioner for Israel’s military.
The mood of the people reflected the changes in circumstances and was mixed. The euphoria of the significant victory following the SixDay War was soon replaced by dismay over the increasing hostilities during the ongoing War of Attrition. In the months prior to the election, the number of Israeli casualties grew, although the air force had become increasingly active and effective along the Suez Canal.
Sixteen lists contested in the 1969 election, and 13 received at least one seat in the Knesset. The most successful electoral list was that of the Labor-Mapam Alignment, which won 46.2 percent of the votes and gained 56 seats in the Knesset. The leadership and institutions now combined in the alignment had dominated Israeli politics and the political scene since the establishment of the Yishuv during the mandate and since independence.
It remained a left-of-center, labor-oriented party, with leadership that included the most prominent of Israeli political and historical figures, such as Golda Meir, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, Yigal Allon, Moshe Dayan, and Abba Eban. Clearly Labor continued to prevail, although it did not win an absolute majority of the seats and thus still required coalition partners to form the government.
Gahal, a joint list of Herut and the Liberal Party on the right side of the political spectrum and led by Menachem Begin, its original founder, won 26 seats. The National Religious Party (NRP) was the third-largest party winning 12 seats in parliament.
The remaining seats were distributed among the other parties that achieved the 1 percent minimum threshold for a seat. The outcome of the election suggested no major changes in the political situation in Israel nor in the policies of the government and the state.