There are more political parties in israel than we can track but it is important to mention a few in the light of upcoming elections. As always, no party will gain a majority and coalitions will be the order of the day. The resumption of rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza yesterday may have some influence on the feelings of Israelis and we cannot predict the voting effects. Israelis will have to assess, among many other things, Hamas’s denial that the attacks are its doing. It attributes them to loose cannons it is unable to control. Is it a violation of last week’s cease-fire? Voters will decide for themselves.
Kadima – [In English, this means "forward"] A breakaway party formed a couple of years by Ariel Sharon, taken over Ehud Olmert because of Sharon’s bad health. New, lesser known people are now at the helm. Kadima wants a Palestinian state alongside Israel but insists on Israeli control of settlements along the West Bank.
Likud – [in English, this means "consolidation"] Zionist and conservative. Under Netanyahu, it is regarded as hawkish. It favors the continuation of the powerful influence of the Orthodox rabbis. It is very reluctant to negotiate with Hamas, Hezbollah and other alleged terrorist groups.
Avoda – [In English, this means "labor"] Zionist. Favors continued negotiation with Hamas and dismantling controversial Israeli settlements. Opposes the power of the Orthodox rabbis.
Shinui – [In English, this is "Change] Zionist and totally secular. Advocates unilateral withdrawal from many of the territories. Wants to end exemption from military service for orthodox youth.
Shas – Sephardic Religious Party. No clear cut policy on Gaza but insists on exemption from military service for the ultra-orthodox. Numerous and an important swing vote for purposes of coalition.
Mafdal – National Religious Party. Opposes a Palestinian state. Opposes most compromises with Hamas and believes Israel must be a Jewish state.
As of this writing, Kadima has 29 seats in Knesset [Parliament], Avoda has 19, Shas 12, Likud 12, Mafdal 9. More than 40 seats are controlled by other parties.