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2019 ISRAEL ELECTIONS A brief guide on what to expect on April 9th Â

THE ISRAELI ELECTORAL SYSTEM Israel has a parliamentary system with one legislative chamber, the 120seat ‘Knesset’. Members of Knesset (MKs) are elected in national, direct elections based on the party-list proportional representation system. Each party that passes the electoral threshold of 3.25% receives the number of parliamentary seats relative to its percentage of the valid votes. Party lists are finalized several weeks ahead of the election, with parties internally determining their candidates’ ranking. A Knesset is elected for a four-year term, however the average lifetime of a Knesset is 3.4 years. Following the elections, the President summons all the elected parties to submit their recommended candidate for Prime Minister. The President then assigns the task of forming a government to the party leader who has the greatest chance of establishing a coalition government with a majority of MKs (61). Historically, the leader of the party receiving the most votes has been tasked with forming the new government. During the past two decades, no single party has received more than 25% of the valid votes, resulting in the formation of coalition governments – which have consistently featured four or more parties. In the upcoming elections, ten to 13 medium-sized and small political parties are expected to win seats. As such, the party leader designated with forming a government is expected to face a complex task in lobbying other parties to join a coalition. This will likely require the courting of parties with rather different ideologies and agendas, and having to make significant concessions.

KEY CANDIDATES, THEIR PARTIES & EMPHASIS Zionist Left Parties Centrist Parties

Tamar Zandber g Meretz

Avi Gabbay Labour

Benny Gantz Yair Lapid Blue & White

Orly Levi Gesher

Moshe Kahlon Kulanu

Right Wing Parties

Benjamin Netanyah u Likud

Avigdor Liberma n Yisrael Beiteinu

Naftali Bennett Ayelet Shaked New Right

Non-Zionist Arab Parties

• • •

The Left and Right of the political spectrum is mainly differentiated by their approach to the Arab-Israeli Conflict and on views of the level of separation of “Church and State”. The larger and medium-sized parties are situated close to the center on main electoral issues. Other parties take more extreme positions. Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz/Yair Lapid are considered to be frontrunners for the position of Prime Minister.

Ayman Odeh Ahmad Tibi Hadash + Ta’al

Mtanes Shihadeh Mansour Abbas Balad + Ra’am

Rafi Peretz Bezalel Smotrich Union of Right-Wing Parties

Ultra-Orthodox Parties

Yaacov Litzman United Torah Judaism

Aryeh Deri Shas


Formal Election Results Published

Voting closes at 10PM, Exit Polls are published

10 April 9 April

Vote Counting Initial results will become available the following day

Inauguration of Elected Knesset Members

Early May (approx.)

After April 17 17 April

Designated Prime Minister has 28 days to form a Governing Coalition The designated Prime Minister may ask for an extra 14 days to complete the formation of a coalition

23 April

Formal Consultations The President will consult with all political parties and subsequently task the Knesset Member with the best chance of forming a

New Government


Peace Process


The Trump Administration is expected to release its Israel-Palestinian peace plan after the elections. The Israeli Right includes voices in favor of maintaining the status quo and/or annexation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, whereas the Center and Left mostly advocate for bilateral negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and/or unilateral withdrawals from most of the West Bank with the exception of the Settlement Blocs.

There is a broad consensus across the political spectrum from Right to Left that Iran’s perceived malign influence in the region – especially in Syria (which borders Israel) – is Israel’s greatest security threat. With Russian support for the Syrian Regime, Israel has to maintain a good relationship with President Putin and the Kremlin. There is disagreement between the different parties on policy over Hamas in the Gaza Strip, with some advocating for indirect negotiations aimed at reaching a long-term truce and others calling for a decisive military campaign against the organization.

Regional Rapprochement & Looking Eastwards The majority of the political spectrum embraces Israel’s growing relations with the Gulf Arab states, though the Center and Left caution that progress with the Palestinians is needed for these ties to reach their full potential. Likewise, there is broad support for expanding diplomatic and trade relations in Asia, though some have warned against the potentially adverse ramifications of growing ties with China on Israel’s traditionally close and strategic relationship with the U.S.


Economic Affairs Israel’s high cost of living has emerged as a key domestic issue since large-scale protests in 2011. The Left favors greater social benefits and expanded government programs to support the lower socio-economic groups, while the Right often urges expanded market competition and removing protectionist barriers for traditional domestic industries.

Socio-Economic Issues There is a growing divide between secular and religious Jews on the place of religion in the public domain. This divide is manifested in disputes such as the ultra-Orthodox enlistment exemptions, lack of public transportation on the Sabbath, public infrastructure work on he Sabbath and more. Over the past year there have been mass demonstrations in support of LGBTQ, ethnic minorities, and women’s rights, with many concerned over a perceived decline in support for tolerance and pluralism. Israel has one of the highest rates of poverty and wealth inequality among OECD countries, with nearly 50% of

Corruption & Rule of Law Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced in late February his intent to prosecute current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust. Opponents of the prime minister argue that the indictments should warrant his resignation, while supporters maintain that the indictments are not a guilty sentence and that the prime minister’s statesmanship and competency in security and foreign policy override corruption investigations. Some supporters are also advocating legislation to prevent a sitting premier from being investigated.

SOCIAL MEDIA TRENDS In an analysis of over 42,000 Social Media conversations focused on the elections over the past 30 days, APCO has found that discussions were primarily focused on the key issues of Corruption & Rule of Law, followed by Security and Foreign Policy. The issues discussed least were Economic Affairs and the Peace Process.

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For more information, contact : Roi Feder, managing director, Tel Aviv

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A Guide to Israel's April 2019 Elections  

Israel might not be the largest or most influential country in the world but APCO’s Tel Aviv office can guarantee that the upcoming Israeli...

A Guide to Israel's April 2019 Elections  

Israel might not be the largest or most influential country in the world but APCO’s Tel Aviv office can guarantee that the upcoming Israeli...