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Israeli Electoral History: 2021 Election to the 24th Knesset

(March 23, 2021)

Major Party Lists for March 2020 Election
Results

According to Israeli law a new government has 100 days to pass a budget. In August 2020, a compromise law was passed that extended the deadline for another three months. That deadline finally expired and the Knesset disolved on December 22, 2020. A new election, the fourth in less than two years, will be held on March 23, 2021. 

According to the coalition agreement, Benjamin Netanyahu will remain prime minister until a new government is sworn in.

The runup to the election saw a great deal of upheaval as new parties emerged, existing ones disintegrated, and mergers were contemplated and abandoned. Several parties, including Labor and Bayit Yehudi, elected new party leaders. The political situation was further clouded by the coronavirus pandemic and Netanyahu’s legal predicament.

The biggest story was the collapse of Kahol Lavan. After winning 33 seats in the last election, Benny Gantz lost support when he reneged on a campaign promise not to serve in a government with Netanyahu. The party began hemorrhaging as members defected to other parties and the number two on the part list, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, announced he would not run for re-election. Gantz, who was supposed to become prime minister in the coalition rotation agreement, appeared on the verge of losing his party and Knesset seat.

Moshe Ya’alon also decided to drop out of the race after running with Blue and White in three elections. He left the party after Gantz joined the coalition with Netanyahu. Polls showed his Telem Party also was unlikely to reach the electoral threshold.

In the first of several shifts in the constellation of parties, one of Netanyahu’s chief rivals, Gideon Sa’ar, left Likud to form his own party called New Hope. Two other members of the Likud, Michal Shir and Sharron Haskel soon joined Sa’ar. MK Hilay Shay Vazan also defected from Blue and White.

Ron Huldai, the mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa announced in December 2020 he was forming the Hayisralim (“The Israelis”) Party, which was described as left-wing and center-left. The new party was initially bolstered by the decision of Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn to leave Kahol Lavan to join Huldai. Polls indicated, however, the new party might not reach the electoral threshold to win seats in the Knesset and Nissenkorn announced he decided to take “a break from political life.”

As the deadline for registering party lists approached, several parties discussed alliances and officials continued to change parties. Former Kulanu MK Merav Ben-Ari, for example, jumped to Yesh Atid, as did Kahol Lavan’s Social Equality Minister Merav Cohen. Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi entered the national fray as a member of Yamina.

Looking at the polls and the prospects for joining a coalition led to a flurry of last-minute decisions. Trailing in the polls, Huldai withdrew his party. The Jewish Home Party chose to drop out and support Yamina on condition that party leader Hagit Moshe be appointed a minister if Naftali Bennett joined the government. This is the first time in Israeli history the Jewish Home, or its predecessor, the National Religious Party, will not run in an election.

Netanyahu gave MK Ofir Sofer from the Religious Zionism Party the number 28 slot on the Likud list, but he planned to return to his party after the election. Netanyahu also, for the first time, added a Muslim candidate, Nael Zoubi, to the number 39 position on the list.

The  United Arab List chose to run independently of the Joint List, which will incorporate Hadash, Balad, and Ta’al.

A total of 39 parties submitted lists, but with the threshold of 3.25%, the equivalent of four seats, it was likely that no more than eight or ten would be represented in the next Knesset.

On February 21, the Central Elections Committee is scheduled to approve the party lists.

The election will be held on March 23.

The official results be delivered to the president on March 31. 

The 24th Knesset is scheduled to hold its opening session on April 6, 2021.

April 7 is the final date by which the president must give one of the party leaders the opportunity to try to form a government.

Major Party Lists for March 2020 Election

New Hope

Gideon Sa’ar
2 Yifat Shasha-Biton
Ze’ev Elkin
4. Yoaz Hendel
5. Sharren Haskel
6. Benny Begin
7. Meir Yitzhak Halevi
8. Zvi Hauser
9. Michal Shir
10. Hila Shay Vazan
11. Dani Dayan
12. ‎Michel Buskila
13. Ofer Berkovitch
14. Avi Ganon
15. Michal Diament
16. Sahar Pinto
17. Sahar Ismail
18. Alon Keysar
19. Orna Davidai
20. Dovrat Weizer
 
Yesh Atid

Yair Lapid
2. Orna Barbivai
3. Meir Cohen
4. Karin Elharrar
5. Meirav Cohen
6. Yoel Razvozov
7. Elazar Stern
8. Mickey Levy
9. Merav Ben Ari
10. Ram Ben Barak
11. Yoav Segalovitz
12. Boaz Toporovsky
13. Idan Roll
14. Yorai Lahav Hertzanu
15. Vladimir Beliak
16. Ron Katz
17. Nira Shpak
18. Tania Mazarsky
19. Yasmin Sax Fridman
20. Inbar Bezek
 
Kahol Lavan

1 Benny Gantz
2. Pnina Tamano-Shata
3. Chili Tropper
4. Michael Biton
5 Orit Farkash-Hacohen
6. Alon Schuster
7. Eitan Ginzburg

Shas

1 Aryeh Deri
2. Yaakov Margi
3. Yoav Ben Tzur
4. Michael Malkieli
5. Chaim Bitton
6. Moshe Arbel
7. Yinon Azoulay
8. Moshe Abutbul
9. Uriel Busso
10. Yosef Taieb
11. Avraham Bezalel
12. Netanel Haik

Likud

1 Benjamin Netanyahu
2 Yuli Edelstein
3 Yisrael Katz
Miri Regev
Yariv Levin
Yoav Galant
Nir Barkat
Gila Gamliel
Avi Dichter
10 Haim Katz
11 Eli Cohen
12 Galit Distal Atbaryan
13 Tzachi Hanegbi
14  Ofir Akunis
15 Yuval Steinitz
16 David Amsalem
17. Gadi Yevarkan
18. Amir Ohana
19. Ofir Katz
20. Etty Atia
21. Yoav Kish
22. David Bitan
23. Keren Barak
24. Shlomo Karhi
25. Miki Zohar
26. Orly Levy-Abekasis
27. Keti Shitrit
28. Ofir Sofer
29. Patin Mula
30. May Golan
31. Tali Ploskov
32. Uzi Dayan
33. Ariel Kallner
34. Osnat Mark
35. Amit Halevi
36. Yair Gabbay
37. Nissim Vaturi
38. Shevach Stern
39. Nael Zoubi
40. Boris Aplichuk
41. Ayoub Kara
42. Moti Yogev
43. Yehudah Glick
44. Nurit Koren
45. Zeev Fleishman

Joint List

1 Ayman Odeh
2. Ahmad Tibi
3. Sami Abu Shehadeh
4. Aida Touma-Sliman
5. Osama Saadi
6. Ofer Cassif
7. Heba Yazbak
8. Yousef Jabareen
9. Joumah Azbarga
10. Sondos Saleh

Meretz

1 Nitzan Horowitz
Tamar Zandberg
3. Yair Golan
4. Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi
5. Esawi Freige
6. Mossi Raz
7. Michal Rozin
8. Gaby Lasky
9. Ali Salalha
10. Kati Piasecki

Religious Zionism

Bezalel Smotrich
2. Michal Woldiger 
3. Itamar Ben-Gvir
4. Simcha Rothman 
5. Orit Strock
6. Avi Maoz 
7. Racheli Zinkin 
8. Ayanawo Ferada Senebato
9. Eliyahu Attiya
10. Yitzhak Wasserlauf
 

Yamina 

1 Naftali Bennett
2 Ayelet Shaked
3. Alon Davidi
4. Matan Kahana
5. Amichai Chikli
6. Nir Orbach
7. Abir Kara
8. Idit Silman
9. Shirly Pinto
10. Shai Maymon
11. Yomtob Kalfon
12. Stella Vainshtein
13. Roni Sassover
14. Orna Starkmann
15. Asher Cohen

Labor

1. Merav Michaeli
2. Omer Bar-Lev
3. Emilie Moatti
4. Gilad Kariv
5. Efrat Rayten
6. Ram Shefa
7. Ibtisam Mara'ana
8. Nachman Shai
9. Naama Lazimi
10. Gil Beilin
11. Eran Hermoni
12. Nissim Lasr
13. Elis Goldman
14. Maya Nuri Shaked
15. Amir Khnifess

United Torah Judaism

1 Moshe Gafni
Yaakov Litzman
3. Uri Maklev
4. Meir Porush
5. Yakov Asher
6. Israel Eichler
7. Yitzhak Pindrus
8. Yaakov Tessler
9. Eliyahu Baruchi
10. Moshe Shimon Roth
11. David Ohana
12. Binyamin Hershler
13. Yitzhak Reich
14. Yosef Baham

Yisrael Beiteinu

Avigdor Lieberman
2. Oded Forer
3. Evgeny Sova
4. Eli Avidar
5. Yulia Malinovsky
6. Hamad Amar
7. Alex Kushnir
8. Yossi Shein
9. Limor Magen Telem
10. Elina Bardach-Yelov

United Arab List

1. Mansour Abbas
2. Mazen Ghanaim
3. Walid Taha
4. Said al-Harumi
5. Iman Khatib-Yasin

 

 

 

 

Results

Party Seats Total Vote % of Total
Likud 30 1,066,892 24.19%
Yesh Atid 17 614,112 13.93%
Shas 9 316,008 7.17%
Blue and White 8 292,257 6.63%
Yamina 7 273,836 6.21%
Labor 7 268,767 6.09%
United Torah Judaism 7 248,391 5.63%
Israel Beitanu 7 248,370 5.63%
Religious Zionism 6 225,641 5.12%
Joint List 6 212,583 4.82%
New Hope 6 209,161 4.74%
Meretz 6 202,218 4.59%
Ra’am 4 167,064 3.79%
TOTAL VALID VOTES   4,410,052  
ELIGIBLE VOTERS   6,578,084  
TURNOUT     67.44%

While Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud Party won the most votes, his potential coalition partners did not do well enough to ensure he can form a government. The pro-Netanyahu bloc, which includes Shas, United Torah Judaism, and Religious Zionism won a total of 52 seats while the anti-Netanyahu bloc of Yesh Atid, Kahol Lavan, Yisrael Beiteinu, Labor, New Hope, Meretz, and the Joint List won 57 of the 61 needed to form a government.

The two uncommitted parties are Yamina, which leans right, and the United Arab List, which leans far left. No Israeli government has ever included an Arab party, and it is unlikely Netanyahu or his rivals would do so now. If you take away the Joint List then from the anti-Netanyahu bloc, it drops to 51. Unless there are enough defections from one or more parties or, as in the last election, one of the anti-Netanyahu parties agrees to join him in a coalition, neither side can form a government without at least one of the Arab parties. This leads to the likely conclusion that Israel will have to go to a fifth election with Netanyahu remaining prime minister.

Party leaders meet with President Reuven Rivlin  on April 5 to recommend their preferred candidate for prime minister. Rivlin will then announce who will be given the mandate to form the next government, and the chance to become premier, based on whom he assesses has the best chance of doing so. Initially, it looked as though that would be Netanyahu since Likud won the most votes; however, as the date approached Lapid seemed closer to building a coalition and leaders of several of the anti-Netanyahu parties indicated they would ask Rivlin to give him the first shot at obtaining 61 votes. Whoever Rivlin chooses will have 28 days to secure a majority.

Can A Coalition Be Built?

Despite jockeying by the major players, no one could put together the 61 mandates needed to form a government before President Rivlin had to decide on who should get the first crack at officially building a coalition. Rivlin said he did not believe any candidate had a realistic chance of doing so, but felt obligated to give Netanyahu the first shot because he received the endorsements of 52 lawmakers compared to 45 for Lapid. He has until May 4 to form a government, but he can request a two-week extension. Rivlin then can give someone else, most likely Lapid, a chance to form a government or leave it to the Knesset, which would then have 21 days to organize a coalition before a fifth election would automatically be scheduled.


Sources: Jonathan Lis and Chaim Levinson, “The Knesset Dissolves; Israelis Will Return to the Polls on March 23,” Haaretz, (December 23, 2020).
Gideon Sa’ar, Wikipedia.
Raoul Wootliff, “Tel Aviv mayor to form new left-wing party to run in March elections,” .Times of Israel, (December 28, 2020).
“Veteran Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai launches new center-left party, ‘The Israelis,’” Times of Israel, (December 29, 2020).
Jonathan Lis, “Tel Aviv Mayor Announces New Party Running in Upcoming Israeli Election,” Haaretz, (December 30, 2020).
Yossi Verter, “The Slow Fraying of Gantz’s Party Has Turned Into a Panicked Flight,” Haaretz, (December 30, 2020).
Amy Spiro, “Deadline for Israeli party registration looms this week,” JewishInsider, (February 1, 2021).
“Parties submit their lists for March election,” BICOM Morning Brief, (February 8, 2021).
“Israel Election 2021: All the Official Party Slates,” Haaretz, (February 3, 2021).
“Israel Election Results: Lapid, Lieberman Discuss Forming Gov’t,” Haaretz, (March 26, 2021).
Central Elections Committee.
Jonathan Lis, “Israel Election Results: President Rivlin Tasks Netanyahu With Forming Government,” Haaretz, (April 6, 2021).