Israeli Elections: What You Need To Know

by Abigail Resheff        Recently, elections in Israel took place for the third time since 2019, and the Israeli government is still stuck in a loop of recurring elections. People are debating over whether current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will keep his post, or be forced to leave and potentially go to jail for corruption. 

To understand the issues with the Israeli government, first we need to understand how it works. The Israeli government runs very differently from the American government. In the United States, we vote for a person, but in Israel, they vote for a party. Additionally, unlike in America, Israel votes as a country, not by states. And lastly, the American government has a winner-take-all system while the Israeli government has a proportional system. This means that in Israel, people vote for their party, and depending on how many people voted for each party, they have more or less seats in parliament. After an election, in order to form a new government, several parties need to form a coalition to obtain a majority in parliament, 61 out of the 120 seats.

Mr. Netanyahu leads the right-leaning Likud party and has formed a coalition with religious parties for the past 11 years. This coalition earned 58 seats in parliament, 3 seats shy of the 61 seat majority. His opponent, Benny Gantz, a former army chief of staff, leads the center-left coalition, which received 40 seats. The Arab-Joint List party received 15 seats, and the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu received 7. Mr. Gantz cannot form a coalition with these partners because multiple parties refuse to collaborate with the Joint List, citing their support for terrorists. 

There are many possible outcomes for this election. It’s unlikely that the Joint List party and Beiteinu will get over their disagreements and agree to a coalition. However, they may agree to form a short-term coalition in order to pass a law that will bar anyone under indictment from forming a new government, thus preventing Netanyahu from forming a government as he is under indictment for corruption. A possible strategy that the Likud will use is to bribe people that are neutral in parliament to join their party in order to gain a majority. If that strategy fails, Israel just may be forced to see a fourth election this year.

Bibliography:

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/.premium-israel-election-2020-netanyahu-gantz-1.8627591 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elections_in_Israel 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/04/world/middleeast/israel-election-netanyahu.html

Photo credit: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/03/opinion/israel-election.html

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