Early elections for the twentieth
Knesset were held in
Israel on 17
March 2015. Disagreements within the governing coalition, particularly
over the budget and a "Jewish state" proposal, led to the dissolution
of the government in December 2014. The Labor Party and
a coalition, called Zionist Union, with the hope of defeating the
Likud party, which had led the previous governing coalition along with
Yisrael Beiteinu, Yesh Atid,
The Jewish Home
The Jewish Home and Hatnuah.
The incumbent Prime Minister,
Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud, declared
victory in the election with
Likud picking up the highest number of
Reuven Rivlin granted Netanyahu an extension until 6
May 2015 to build a coalition when one had not been finalized in the
first four weeks of negotiations. He formed a coalition government
within two hours of the midnight May 6 deadline. His
formed the coalition with the Jewish Home, United
Kulanu, and Shas, with the bare minimum 61 seats. Yisrael
Beiteinu later joined the coalition in May 2016.
4 Electoral system
4.1 Joint electoral lists
4.2 Surplus-vote agreements
5.1.1 Primary results and aftermath
Zionist Union (Labor and Hatnuah)
5.3 Joint List
5.4 Yesh Atid
5.6 The Jewish Home
5.7 Yisrael Beiteinu
5.11 Yachad and Otzma Yehudit
5.12 Other participating parties
5.13 Non-participating parties
6 Opinion polls
9 Government formation
12 External links
Israeli legislative election, 2013
Israeli legislative election, 2013 and
Thirty-third government of Israel
During late November and early December 2014, there were serious
disagreements between parties in the governing coalition, particularly
over the budget and a "Jewish state" proposal. On 2 December
Likud announced it would support a dissolution bill, with a vote
scheduled for 8 December. Hours later, Prime Minister Benjamin
Tzipi Livni and
Yair Lapid from their cabinet
portfolios. In the first reading of the dissolution bill on 3
December, it was approved by a vote of 84–0, with one abstention.
The second and third readings were held on 8 December, with the third
reading passing with a vote of 93–0.
The final election turnout was 72.3%, 4.6% higher than in the
previous election and the highest since the 1999 elections, which saw
a 78.7% turnout.
Initially, exit polls reported a virtual tie between the
Likud and the
Zionist Union, a coalition headed by Leader of the Opposition Isaac
Herzog and former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. Both Netanyahu and
Herzog began attempts to build a coalition in preparation for a
possible government, with Herzog calling Netanyahu's statement
"premature". However, when the counting of the votes on 18 March
2015 revealed a significant lead for the Likud, Herzog acknowledged
that "the only realistic option" was to remain in the opposition.
He stated in a 19 March 2015 post-election interview that he still
hopes to be the prime minister.
During the meeting held with Speaker
Yuli-Yoel Edelstein on setting
the date of the election,
Likud and the Jewish Home favoured 10 March,
the Labor Party requested 17 March,
Shas and United
preferred 24 March, whilst the Arab parties requested that the
elections be delayed until May. The date was ultimately set for 17
29 January 2015 – Deadline for parties to submit final Knesset
candidate lists to the Central Elections Commission
5 March 2015 – Election Day for members of Israeli diplomatic
missions – Israeli diplomatic staff, their spouses, and Jewish
Agency representatives vote, with ballot boxes set up in 96 Israeli
diplomatic missions worldwide.
13 March 2015 – Deadline for publishing election polls and
15 March 2015 – Election day for serving soldiers. 668 ballot boxes
set up on military bases, and mobile polling stations are deployed to
travel between remote army posts. Serving soldiers may vote from this
day to the end of the elections.
16 March 2015 – Starting from 19:00 campaigning using assemblies,
meetings, speakers, and media is prohibited.
17 March 2015 – Election Day. Most polling stations for the general
public opened at 7:00 AM, although some polling stations in rural
communities, hospitals, and prisons opened an hour later. Some 10,372
polling stations were set up, including 56 ballot boxes in prisons and
255 ballot boxes in hospitals. Polls in prisons closed at 9:20
PM. Polling stations open to the general public closed at 10:00 PM.
Hospital staff and emergency room patients who were not be available
to vote while polling stations are open were issued special documents
allowing them to vote after 10:00 PM.
Further information: Elections in Israel
Israeli polling booth
The 120 seats in the
Knesset are elected by proportional
representation in a single nationwide constituency. The electoral
threshold for the 2013 elections was 2%, but on 11 March 2014 the
Knesset voted to raise the threshold to 3.25%. The vote was boycotted
by the opposition. In almost all cases, this is equivalent to a
minimum party size of four seats, but on rare occasions a party can
end up with three.
Joint electoral lists
Further information: Electoral alliance
Continuing their longstanding alliance,
Degel HaTorah and Agudat
Israel ran on a joint electoral list named United
In December 2014, the Labor Party and
Hatnuah agreed to form a joint
electoral list named Zionist Union.
The new Yachad party and
Otzma Yehudit agreed on a joint electoral
Following the raising of the electoral threshold, Balad, Hadash, the
southern branch of the Islamic Movement,
Ta'al and the United Arab
List agreed in January 2015 to form a joint electoral list named Joint
Further information: D'Hondt method
Two parties could make an agreement so that they were considered to be
running on a joint list when leftover seats were distributed. The
Bader–Ofer method favors larger lists, meaning that a joint list is
more likely to receive leftover seats than each list would
individually. If such a joint list were to receive a leftover seat,
the Bader–Ofer method would be applied a second time to determine
which of the parties that make up the joint list would receive it.
The following agreements were signed by parties prior to the election:
Likud and the Jewish Home
Yisrael Beiteinu and Kulanu
Zionist Union and Meretz
Shas and United
Likud leadership election, 2014
Likud leadership election
Prime Minister Netanyahu called a primary for 25 December 2014,
however, it was postponed until 6 January. After the election was
called, the prime minister demanded a vote of the central committee to
move it back up to 31 December. This was passed in a
mini-referendum. The candidates were Netanyahu and former
deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon. Likud's internal court
changed the date to 6 January 2015 after finding that the vote lacked
a two-thirds majority. A panel of
Likud judges accepted
Netanyahu's appeal and allowed the vote to occur on 31 December
The controversy over the timing of the primaries led to an internal
investigation resulting in a report by party comptroller Shay Galilee
that claimed Netanyahu had misused party employees. Galilee
subsequently invited Netanyahu to a pre-disqualification hearing,
which resulted in Netanyahu being prevented from running in the
primaries. The prime minister immediately appealed to the Likud
internal court. Menachem Ne’eman, the chairman of the Likud
election committee, has claimed that Galilee acted outside his
authority and that his decision is invalid. Netanyahu's attorney and
his primary campaign have contested the disqualification.
Netanyahu was allowed to run.
Primary results and aftermath
The primary results were widely seen as a victory for Netanyahu and
the more moderate faction within Likud, as opposed to the far-right
fringe. Moshe Feiglin, who for a long time led his own
far-rightist faction within
Likud and once challenged Netanyahu for
the chairmanship, suffered a major defeat in the primary, failing to
win a realistic spot on the ticket. In response, he left
announced plans to form a new party. Feiglin said his new
party, which may be called the Jewish State Party, will not run in the
2015 election but will run in the next election after that.
The major foreign policy focus of
Benjamin Netanyahu during this
campaign has been to "prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear
capability, by turning world opinion in favor of maintaining and
expanding economic and diplomatic sanctions against Tehran".
Netanyahu reiterated his positions on Iran to a joint session of the
United States Congress. In the Middle East peace process, "Netanyahu
has spoken out against further withdrawals from land, further releases
of terrorists from prisons or dividing
Jerusalem in any way".
Additionally, Netanyahu and other
Likud members suggested that
positions that he had made in his famous Bar Ilan speech were now null
and void. He reiterated this position on the last day of the
Makor Rishon that "If I'm elected, there will be no
Likud "calls for a "free market economy with social
sensitivity", suggesting that in order "to remain competitive in a
global market, there is a need for budgetary discipline, lowering
taxes, an effectively managed stock market and growth of the private
sector". The party has also pledged to "implement State
Comptroller Joseph Shapira's recommendations for ending the housing
crisis and improve benefits for the self-employed".
On election day, Netanyahu made a public statement, claiming:
The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are going in
droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are bringing them on
buses. We only have you, Go to the polls, bring your friends and
Likud to close the gap between us and Labor Zionist
Union. With your help and God’s help, we will form a nationalist
government that will protect the State of Israel.
It's been argued that this statement had implications on the Likud
victory in the election. Following the elections, Netanyahu said he
regretted the message.
The President of the United States, Barack Obama, criticized that
Zionist Union (Labor and Hatnuah)
The Labor leadership election
Zionist Union list
Yael Cohen Paran
Main article: Zionist Union
The Labor Party and
Hatnuah agreed on 10 December 2014 to form a joint
Tzipi Livni has said that other parties will
also be part of the alliance. Herzog and Livni initially said that
if they won enough votes to form the next government, they would take
turns in the role of prime minister, with Herzog serving for the first
two years and Livni for the second two, in a compromise known as
rotation, though Livni announced on 16 March 2015 that only Herzog
would serve as prime minister. Labor held its primaries on 13
Aluf (Major General, res.)
Amos Yadlin was the party's candidate for
Ministry of Defence, though he did not run in the election itself.
The alliance was expanded further when Livni selected Yael Cohen
Paran, a co-chair of the Green Movement,
Major General (res.) Eyal
Yoel Hasson for Hatnuah's reserved slots on the
Zionist Union list.
The slate was endorsed by former prime minister Ehud Barak, former
prime minister and president Shimon Peres, former
Shin Bet chief
Yuval Diskin, former
Mossad chief Meir Dagan, head of Israel's
wealthiest family Stef Wertheimer, columnist Ari Shavit,
the daily Haaretz, and The Economist.
Maintaining its position firmly within the Israeli peace camp, the
party pledged to "reignite a process with our Palestinian neighbors
based on a regional platform, and foster our unique and special
relationship with Washington" but did not specify in greater detail
the concessions that would be made by a
Zionist Union government other
than saying that the Jordan Valley must be Israel's eastern security
border. The party also pledged "to rescue
Israel from its
international isolation [by] restor[ing] relations with the US and
Europe, and unit[ing] the world in its war against terrorism and
Much of the party's policy has been focused on economic issues facing
Israelis, due in large part to members of the 2011 Israeli social
justice protests currently on the party's slate of candidates. The
party has pledged "support for 300,000 available apartments, released
to the market at the rate of 50,000–60,000 per year, and subsidizing
land value in housing while providing an opportunity for partial
ownership through rent payments. The party also plans to "lower
the costs of healthcare, education and basic goods for every family in
Israel, allocating NIS 2 billion to create a basic aid package for
senior citizens in need and launch a national savings program for
The Joint List
Abd al-Hakim Hajj Yahya
Taleb Abu Arar
Abdullah Abu Ma'aruf
Following the raising of the electoral threshold, Balad, Hadash, the
southern branch of the Islamic Movement,
Ta'al and the United Arab
List agreed on 22 January 2015 to run on the same list in the
election, the first time the major Arab parties had all run on a
single list. One poll suggested that the formation of alliance,
later named the Joint List, could increase turnout amongst Arab voters
to 56%, 10% higher than in the 2013 elections. However, the more
hardline northern branch of the Islamic Movement opted to boycott the
elections, alongside the
Abnaa el-Balad (Sons of the Village)
Despite the official positions of anti-Zionism of some of the List's
parties, the party's platform on the Middle East peace process tries
to stake a moderate position. The Joint List's policy on the peace
process "calls for a just peace based on UN resolutions, ending the
occupation of all land
Israel captured in 1967, dismantling all
settlements and the security barrier, releasing all "political
prisoners" and forming a Palestinian state with
Jerusalem as its
capital". Additionally, the party "calls for a just solution to
the Palestinian refugee problem, which guarantees a right of return
and self-rule for Israeli-Arab citizens on educational, cultural and
religious issues". On other foreign policy matters, the party
"supports a nuclear-free
Israel and Middle East".
Due to the fact that the party is primarily concerned with the
interests of Israeli Arabs, the party "calls for full equality in
state budgeting for Jewish and Arab municipalities and institutions,
as well as affirmative action to help the poor – who are
disproportionately Arab". Additionally, the party wants to raise
the minimum wage to 60% of the average salary.
Yesh Atid list
Hailed as the kingmakers in the 2013 elections,
Yesh Atid and its
Yair Lapid have seen their popularity cut in half since joining
the government. Elected on a "promise to lower the cost of living and
improve the middle class's quality of life, Lapid implemented a string
of unpopular austerity measures after being appointed finance minister
that, he said, were necessary to counter a government deficit that ran
into the tens of billions of shekels". Such actions led to Lapid
being named the "most disappointing politician of 2013" and giving him
the lowest approval ratings of cabinet ministers.
Following the election call, several sitting
Yesh Atid MKs announced
their intention not to run in the upcoming elections, including Rina
Frenkel, Adi Koll, and Shimon Solomon. However, the party gained a
member from another party, as
Elazar Stern joined Yesh Atid
following party leader Tzipi Livni's merger with Labor.
Yesh Atid's platform on the Middle East peace is firmly in the middle.
The party "maintains that
Israel was founded as the nation-state of
the Jewish people and must remain a state with a Jewish majority, with
defensible borders". The party suggested that a multilateral
approach involving Israel's neighbors would allow for Israel's
long-term security as well as a Palestinian state.
On the subject of Iran, the party says
Israel cannot allow Iran to
become a nuclear threshold state and must do everything to prevent
that scenario, in conjunction with the international community if
possible and unilaterally if necessary.
Yair Lapid served as finance minister in Netanyahu's
government, and as mentioned above, takes both the support and the
blame for the government's fiscal policies. Had the government not
fallen, Lapid's 2015 budget "would have increased investment in social
services by more than NIS 10 billion without incurring any increase in
taxes". The party "believes in a fair economic policy that directs
budgetary investments to the middle class and the weakest in society,
closing social gaps while strengthening the market and encouraging
growth". The party calls for more spending on health, education
and welfare, as well as encouraging growth and investment in industry
by assisting small and medium businesses and promoting innovation in
the market, fighting the black market and striving to put public funds
back in the hands of the public.
Kulanu party was established in November 2014 by former
Moshe Kahlon following months of speculation.
Kahlon was able to attract some high-profile candidates for the Kulanu
party list, including former Israeli Ambassador to the United States
Michael Oren and Deputy Mayor of
Jerusalem Rachel Azaria. However, one
of these candidates, former
Reshet Aleph director and IBA presenter
Tsega Melaku was barred from running in the elections, due to the fact
that she did not wait the requisite 100 days between quitting her
public sector job and running in a general election.
Kahlon is known for his support for egalitarian economics and for
issues affecting the middle class, although he also maintains a strong
working-class appeal. As communications minister, he earned popularity
by taking on Israel's wireless cartel and forcing them to lower mobile
phone prices by introducing new competitors. His platform aims to
break up business monopolies and lower the high cost of
living. Traditionally known for a hard line on security matters,
Kahlon has in more recent times suggested support for territorial
compromise for a two-state solution. He has said he is "a product
of the Likud" but that his "worldview is center, slightly leaning to
the right". Within the Likud, he was known to be socially
Ari Shavit wrote in January 2015 that
Kulanu had the
potential to be the true successor to the national liberalism of Ze'ev
Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin. It is not clear with which
political bloc his party is naturally allied. Kahlon considers
himself a longstanding member of both Israel's "national camp" and its
"social camp." While campaigning in 2015, he would not say whether the
party would endorse
Benjamin Netanyahu or
Isaac Herzog for prime
minister, although Galant, placed second on the party's list,
suggested it would prefer Herzog.
The Jewish Home
The Jewish Home
The Jewish Home leadership election
The Jewish Home
The Jewish Home list
The Jewish Home
The Jewish Home held its primary elections on 14 January 2015. It
has agreed to a vote-sharing agreement with Likud. Tkuma has
candidates on the same list as the Jewish Home for the election. It
held its primaries on 11 January 2015. Its
Knesset members will be
placed on the 2nd, 8th, 13th and 17th slots in the joint list.
Rabbi Shimon Or competed against incumbent party leader Naftali
Bennett in the 14 January leadership elections.
Uri Orbach was placed 6th in the list, but he died on 16
The Jewish Home
The Jewish Home is "the only incumbent party in
Israel that opposes
any type of Palestinian state west of the Jordan River", as well as a
one-state solution, which it sees as "infeasible and dangerous".
The party instead supports annexing Area C and giving Area A and B
The party's economic platform is "committed to increasing competition,
breaking up monopolies and cutting taxes to the middle class whenever
possible, because the party believes the government must encourage new
ventures by maintaining a business-friendly climate through favorable
economic policies and cutting red tape". The party also supports
doubling the incentive package given to small businesses, allowing
them to borrow up to 85 percent of set-up costs.
Yisrael Beiteinu list
Yisrael Beiteinu, who ran in the 2013 elections on a joint party list
with Likud, split from the party in July 2014, with analysts
suggesting that it was due to policy disagreements between Prime
Minister Netanyahu and Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman,
specifically regarding the 2014 kidnapping and murder of Israeli
teenagers and the ensuing conflict in Gaza. The party's poll
numbers stayed relatively steady after the split from Likud, but began
to slide in early 2015.
Party leader Avigdor Liberman has publicized his own plan for peace
with the Palestinians. The
Lieberman Plan is controversial due to its
plan for massive population exchanges between Jews and Arabs.
On economic issues, the party pledged a 90% mortgage for the purchase
of a first apartment for couples in which both partners work, and
served in the army or did national service. Additionally, they
suggest that the state should provide after-school activities until 5
p.m. for children aged from six months to six years.
United Torah Judaism
United Torah Judaism list
Torah Judaism, or Yehadut HaTorah, is an alliance between:
Degel HaTorah ("Banner [of] the Torah") party that is guided by
the rabbinic heads (usually the leading roshei yeshiva ("deans") of
the Lithuanian yeshivot) of non-
Haredi Ashkenazi Jews.
Israel ("Union [of] Israel") party that is guided by the
followers of Hasidism in Israel, and also consisting of Ashkenazi
Jews. The leading members of this party are the followers of the Ger,
Vizhnitz, Boston and Sadigura Hasidim.
As a party that caters to Israel's large haredi and hasidic community,
the party's platform reflects this. On foreign policy, "the party’s
guiding principle is that the Land of
Israel was given to the Jewish
people by God, and belongs to them forever". When faced with
practical questions on the conflict, leading rabbis will also consider
pikuach nefesh, the Jewish legalistic principle of saving life taking
priority over all else. At heart, the party is "committed to true
peace in the Middle East and putting an end to the bloodshed".
The party "demands a solution to the haredi housing shortage and will
work to change housing policies to enable young couples to comfortably
purchase or rent a suitable home". Additionally, the party
"insists that state land be allocated free of charge to those eligible
for state housing, and will work to construct a program to populate
these units with homeless from the ultra-Orthodox community". On
other social issues, the party also wishes to educate Israelis in
Jewish values regarding economic stability and managing family
economics. The party's economic policy advocates a focus on the
private sector and decreasing government involvement in the economy.
Yoav Ben Tzur
One of the fiercest rivalries in this campaign has been competition
among several different parties for the votes of
Jews. Historically, Shas, a
Haredi party founded by
Ovadia Yosef has been the key party among Haredi
Sephardic and Mizrahi populations. In 1999,
Aryeh Deri was
convicted of taking $155,000 in bribes while serving as Interior
Minister and given a three-year jail sentence in 2000, he was replaced
by Eli Yishai. Yishai led the party for over ten years after
Deri's imprisonment, leading the party through
Knesset elections until
2013. Deri was released from prison for good behavior in 2002, and
remained a popular figure within his constituency.
Between 2011 and 2014, several events occurred that created rifts in
the party. In 2011, after years out of the political spotlight, Deri
announced an interest in returning to politics. After Aryeh Deri
announced his return to politics, and following a series of highly
publicised events that led to an increase in the tensions between the
Haredi public and the non-
Haredi public, Shas's popularity began to
falter according to most polls. As a result,
Shas chairman Eli Yishai
Aryeh Deri join the party instead of establishing an
Shas spiritual leader
Ovadia Yosef offered
Aryeh Deri the 3rd position on the party list, but Deri rejected it at
first and was believed to want to lead the party, start his own party
(which according to polls might win as many as 7 seats), or not
participate in the election at all. On 16 October a compromise
Shas would not have a formal chairman, but would instead
be jointly led by Deri, Yishai and Housing and Construction Minister
Ariel Atias. In May 2013, some months after internal rift
following Deri's political comeback, Yishai was ousted and Deri was
once again renamed as the leader of the
Shas party. Ovadia Yosef,
Sephardi sage and
Shas spiritual leader said regarding his
decision to oust Yishai "It was a deposit that he held, and now he can
redeem it." Yosef also said he had told Deri at the time of his
imprisonment that the position of party leader would be returned to
him. 2013 also marked the death of Ovadia Yosef, the party's
In 2014, Yishai created a new party, called Yachad. On 28 December
2014, a recording was released of
Rabbi Yosef condemning Deri and
supporting Yishai in 2008, years before Deri's return to
politics. In response to these recordings, Deri tendered his
resignation to the party leadership, which they rejected.
There were also protests and threats to boycott the election from
Haredi women, upset with the fact that the
Haredi parties do not allow
women on the ballot.
At the end of the campaign, Yishai sent an open letter to Deri,
"calling for peace and unity between the two parties for Election Day
and in the coming
Knesset in order to defeat "evil decrees" against
Torah and against the working class". "Deri dismissed
Yishai’s missive as hypocritical and said that he had pleaded for
cooperation from Yishai before he quit Shas, but to no avail".
The party's platform on the peace process is simple.
Aryeh Deri has
suggested that "there is currently no negotiating partner on the
Palestinian side, so the basis of the next government should be
socioeconomic". On that subject, Shas' economic plan calls for an
increase in the minimum wage to NIS 30 an hour, lowering the
value-added tax on basic household items and requiring 7.5% of every
building plan to be devoted to public housing.
Shas insist that their
housing plan create
Mixed-income housing rather than segregating rich
and poor neighborhoods.
Meretz held its primaries on 19 January 2015 at a meeting of its
1,000-member central committee in the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds. Leader
Zehava Gal-On was re-elected as head of the party, whilst MK Nitzan
Horowitz chose not to stand.
Meretz remains the most vocal party within the Israeli peace camp.
Zehava Gal-On said that any solution must be based on two
states for two peoples, with a border based on pre-1967 lines with
agreed-upon land swaps, and include an end to the conflict through a
regional solution hinged on the Arab Peace Plan. The party sees UN
recognition of a Palestinian state as a pathway toward negotiations,
and calls for the following immediate steps to be taken: Stopping
settlement construction, paying Israeli residents of the West Bank to
leave willingly and removing the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip in a
gradual and coordinated way.
Meretz is also one of the more left-wing parties in terms of economic
policy. The party seeks to create a welfare state with broad-reaching
social services that are effectively regulated and monitored. It
calls for more support for workers and organized labor rather than the
rich, equalizing society through tax reform and reducing spending in
areas such as settlements and the security budget.
Yachad and Otzma Yehudit
The Yachad list
Eli Yishai unveiled Yachad on 15 December 2014.
The Otzma LeYisrael party, which failed to cross the electoral
threshold in the 2013 elections, was rebranded as the Otzma Yehudit
(Jewish Strength) party. The leaders of the party announced that they
would consider running with breakaway groups from
Shas and the Jewish
Home, but not with the Jewish Home itself, because they viewed Naftali
Bennett as insufficiently right-wing.
The two parties came to an agreement on a joint electoral list,
running under the Yachad name.
Eli Yishai told Jeremy Sharon of The
that he was against giving away any territory from the Land of Israel,
and would not agree to any future settlement freeze. The party's
economic policy focussed primarily on bridging the gap between rich
and poor. Due to Yishai's support within the
Haredi community, the
party opposed economic sanctions against haredi draft-dodgers.
Other participating parties
Ale Yarok (Green Leaf) party, which supports legalizing marijuana,
said that anyone who donated to them would receive marijuana if and
when the plant was legalized in Israel. As a result, the party raised
over NIS 100,000 as of January 13. Green Leaf has never won
parliamentary seats before; however, there are enough cannabis smokers
Israel that if even a quarter of them vote for Ale Yarok, the party
will have a good chance of winning seats.
In January, a political party led by
Haredi women declared its
intention to run in the upcoming elections, a first in the Israeli
political system. The party, which is called
U'Bizchutan ("And By
Their [female] Merit"), includes Ruth Korian and Noah Erez on its
list. Party leader Ruth Korian asked for protection from the
government after she said her 10-year-old daughter was pulled out of
class and questioned about party activities.
The "We Are All Friends Na Nach" party, representing Breslover
Hasidim, is also running. Because the name of the party in Hebrew is
Kulanu Haverim Na Nach", they objected to the use of the first word
by Moshe Kahlon's
Kulanu party. Ultimately, however, both parties were
allowed to use the name.
The Greens party renamed itself this election as the "Greens Don't
Give A Fuck" party.
Other parties running again after failing to cross the threshold in
the previous election are the Pirate Party, Or, HaTikva LeShinui ("The
Hope for Change"), and the Economy Party headed by the Goldstein
Atid Ehad ran under the name "Protecting Our
Children – Stop Feeding Them Porn". Though it submitted a list to
the Central Elections Committee, the party decided to drop out of
the elections and throw its support behind
The Jewish Home
The Jewish Home when it
determined based on polls that it would receive fewer than 30,000
United Arab List
United Arab List MK
Taleb el-Sana founded a party called “The
Arab List" after not receiving a slot on the Arab parties' Joint
List. An alliance of the
Arab National Party headed by Muhamad
Kanan and the Arab Democratic Party headed by el-Sana, the party
submitted a list to the Central Elections Committee with Kanan in the
top spot and not including el-Sana, but decided to drop out of
the elections only one week before the polls. However, its ballot
papers still appeared in voting booths.
Other parties running for the first time in this election were
Democratura, Manhigut Hevratit ("Social Leadership") headed by former
Moreshet Avot head Ilan Meshicha, Nivheret Ha'Am HaZmanit ("The
Temporary National Team") headed by former
Brit Olam founder Ofer
Lifschitz, Schirut BeKavod ("Making a Living With Honor"), and Perach
After polls showed that
Kadima would be unable to win any seats in
2015 if it competed on its own, there were reports that the Zionist
Union was considering adding it to its ticket by reserving the 11th
Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz. However, Mofaz rejected these
rumors, stating he had no intention of joining the alliance, and
announced that he was retiring from politics in January 2015. He was
replaced as party leader by Akram Hasson, the first time a Druze
Israeli had led a Jewish party. His leadership of the party was
short-lived, however, as Hasson shortly quit the party to join the
Kulanu list, receiving the 12th slot. Without either of its
Kadima did not run in the election.
Main article: Opinion polling for the Israeli legislative election,
Further information on the 20th Knesset: List of members of the
The Jewish Home
We are all friends Na Nach
Hope for Change
Pirate Party of Israel
Living with Dignity
The election resulted in a record number of women (29) being elected
to the Knesset.
Likud scored a plurality of 30 seats, the election did not
result in a rightward drift, as much of Likud's success came at the
expense of more nationalist parties. In fact, by some counts
(particularly if the centrist
Kulanu is considered aligned with the
left-leaning bloc), the left picked up seats. Bernard Avishai
called it a "compromised victory" for Likud, using David Horovitz's
terminology to point out that Netanyahu had "desperately cannibalized"
other parties in his ideological camp. Nevertheless, Likud's
lead put Netanyahu in a comfortable position to attract potential
partners, including nationalist and religious parties, into a
coalition with less ideological divisions than his last government,
given the unlikely return of the center-left
Yesh Atid and Hatnuah
factions to the coalition, the departure of many extremists within
Likud, and the diminished size of other right-wing parties.
Knesset will also see fewer settlers (and supporters of
settlements outside the major blocs), fewer Orthodox lawmakers, a
record number of women, more supporters of progressive streams of
Judaism, and more Arabs.
Despite his electoral victory, coalition building proved very
difficult for Netanyahu.
Two days after the election, U.S. President
Barack Obama called
Netanyahu to congratulate him on his victory. During the call,
Obama said that the
United States would "reassess" aspects of its
relationship with Israel. This came after Netanyahu said
some controversial statements about the two state solution during his
re-election campaign. A possible effect of the election has
been described as the worsening of an already "poisonous" relationship
between Obama and Netanyahu. According to Jeffrey Goldberg,
American Jewish leaders were "uniformly, and deeply, anxious" about
Israel's future in the wake of the victory by Netanyahu, whose
election tactics also put off many American Jews and pro-Israel
Many prominent Palestinians rejoiced at the news, believing it would
give them increased legitimacy and
Israel decreased credibility in the
international arena and among its own allies.
Thomas Friedman observed: "From Iran’s point of view, it
makes fantastic TV on Al Jazeera, and all the European networks; it
undermines Israel’s legitimacy with the young generation on college
campuses around the globe; and it keeps the whole world much more
focused on Israeli civil rights abuses against Palestinians rather
than the massive civil rights abuses perpetrated by the Iranian regime
against its own people. It is stunning how much Bibi’s actions serve
Tehran’s strategic interests."
Iran's foreign ministry said on Wednesday it saw no difference between
Israel's political parties and called them all aggressors. Iran's
foreign ministry spokeswoman Marizeh Afkham told reporters at a weekly
news conference in Tehran, "For us there is no difference between the
Zionist regime's political parties. They are all aggressors in
Indian Prime Minister
Narendra Modi congratulated Prime Minister
Netanyahu following the
Likud party's success in the elections, in a
post on Modi's Twitter account reading "Mazel tov, my friend Bibi
British Prime Minister
David Cameron congratulated Benjamin Netanyahu
Likud Party's success in the Israeli elections. In a message on
Twitter, Mr Cameron said: "Congratulations to Netanyahu on election
result. As one of Israel's firmest friends, UK looks forward to
working with new government."
Canadian Prime Minister
Stephen Harper also tweeted congratulations "I
congratulate PM Netanyahu on his election results. We look fwd to
working w/ the gov't once formed.
Israel has no greater friend than
Main article: Thirty-fourth government of Israel
Following the elections, the leaders of parties with seats in the
Knesset gave their suggestions to President
Reuven Rivlin as to which
party leader should be given the task of forming a coalition. Kulanu,
the Jewish Home, Yisrael Beiteinu,
United Torah Judaism
United Torah Judaism all
Likud in suggesting the incumbent Prime Minister Netanyahu,
giving him the support of 67 of the 120 seats. The
Zionist Union and
Meretz both suggested
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, giving him a
total of 29 seats.
Yesh Atid and the
Joint List both chose to abstain
and not suggest any party leader. These suggestions do not define
who will, and will not, end up in a coalition: In Israel's 2013
Hatnuah did not suggest Netanyahu and joined his government,
while the ultra-Orthodox parties
United Torah Judaism
United Torah Judaism both
suggested Netanyahu, but did not join his coalition.
Rivlin encouraged a unity government between
Likud and the Zionist
Isaac Herzog reiterated that unity government "never
was and never will be." Reports shortly after the election had
Kulanu party, led by Moshe Kahlon, in a decisive position to pick
the next prime minister. At the time,
Kulanu leader Kahlon remained
open to forging a coalition with either Netanyahu or Herzog, and
stated that he would make his decision "after all the votes are
On 25 March, President
Reuven Rivlin tasked Netanyahu to form a new
government. As there were no coalition partners in place on 20 April,
Rivlin granted Netanyahu a two-week extension, until 6 May, to form
Avigdor Lieberman, the outgoing foreign minister, announced shortly
before the 6 May deadline that his
Yisrael Beiteinu party would not
join a coalition with the Likud. Consequently, Netanyahu and his
Likud party formed a narrow coalition government including The Jewish
Torah Judaism, Kulanu, and Shas. This coalition commands
a bare majority of 61 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. No candidate
was announced to lead the Foreign Ministry. It was believed that
Netanyahu was still trying to lure Herzog to lead the post, but Herzog
rejected the idea. Due to the makeup of the coalition and its
slim majority, analysts did not expect the government to last long or
As required by Israel's Basic Law: The Government, Netanyahu informed
Rivlin that he had succeeded in forming a coalition just two hours
before the deadline. The government was approved by the plenum of
Knesset on May 14, after a stormy debate, by a vote of
^ Slot reserved for candidate from the Shfela region
^ Slot reserved for candidate from the Galilee region
^ Slot reserved for candidate from the greater Tel Aviv area
^ Slot reserved for candidate from the
^ Slot reserved for candidate from the Negev region
^ Slot reserved for an immigrant
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