Israeli legislative election, 2015
|Elections for the 20th Knesset|
|17 March 2015|
Early elections for the twentieth Knesset will be held in Israel on 17 March 2015.
- 1 Background
- 2 Campaign
- 2.1 Likud
- 2.2 Zionist Union (Labor and Hatnuah)
- 2.3 The Jewish Home
- 2.4 Yesh Atid
- 2.5 Yisrael Beiteinu
- 2.6 Kulanu
- 2.7 Joint Arab list
- 2.8 United Torah Judaism
- 2.9 Shas
- 2.10 Yachad and Otzma Yehudit
- 2.11 Meretz
- 2.12 Other participating parties
- 2.13 Non-participating parties
- 3 Electoral system
- 4 Opinion polls
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
- 7 External links
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 Netanyahu fired 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.
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 Torah Judaism preferred 24 March, whilst the Arab parties requested that the elections be delayed until May. The date was ultimately set for 17 March.
|The Jewish Home||12|
|United Torah Judaism||7|
|United Arab List||3|
|Likud leadership election|
|The Likud list|
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 2014.
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 Likud and 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.
Zionist Union (Labor and Hatnuah)
|The Labor leadership election|
|The Zionist Union list|
The Labor Party and Hatnuah agreed on 10 December 2014 to form a joint ticket. Hatnuah head Tzipi Livni has said that other parties will also be part of the alliance. Herzog and Livni 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. Labor held its primaries on 13 January 2015.
The alliance was expanded further when Livni selected Yael Cohen Paran, a co-chairman of the Green Movement, (Major General, res.) Eyal Ben-Reuven and Yoel Hasson for Hatnuah's reserved slots on the Zionist Union list.
The Jewish Home
|The Jewish Home leadership election|
|The Jewish Home list|
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.
|The Yesh Atid list|
Hailed as the kingmakers in the 2013 elections, Yesh Atid and its leader 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. Lapid responded to these criticisms in an interview with Channel 2, where he said:
|“||Fact: I entered the job with 40 billion shekels in a budgetary hole, a 4.3% deficit, an economic crisis, and when I left the job after a year and eight months, the deficit had fallen to 2.6% and the hole had disappeared. During that time we established a national program for Holocaust survivors, equalized the burden [by drafting haredim to the army], changed the government's methods, and set up a national program to reduce the number of students per class.||”|
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 Hatnuah MK Elazar Stern joined Yesh Atid following party leader Tzipi Livni's merger with Labor.
|The Yisrael Beitenu 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 Liberman, 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. For the 2015 elections, the party signed a vote-sharing agreement with Kulanu.
|The Kulanu list|
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.
Joint Arab list
|The Joint List list|
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 Bnei HaKfar (Sons of the Village) movement.
United Torah Judaism
|The UTJ list|
United Torah Judaism, or Yehadut HaTorah, is an alliance between:
- The Degel HaTorah ("Banner [of] the Torah") party that is guided by the rabbinic heads (usually the leading rosh yeshivas ("deans") of the Lithuanian yeshivas) of non-Hasidic Haredi Ashkenazi Jews.
- The Agudat 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.
|The Shas list|
One of the fiercest rivalries in this campaign has been competition among several different parties for the votes of Sephardic Haredi Jews. Historically, Shas, a Sephardic Haredi party founded by Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has been the key party among Haredi Sephardic and Mizrahi populations. In 1999, Shas leader 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 requested that Aryeh Deri join the party instead of establishing an independent party. 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 was reached: Shas would not a have a formal chairman, but would instead be jointly lead 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, the 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 spiritual leader.
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. Women who protested this policy were threatened with repercussions by male Haredi activists.
Yachad and Otzma Yehudit
|The Yachad - Otzma joint list|
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 Jewish Home, but not with Jewish Home itself, because they view Naftali Bennett as insufficiently right-wing.
The two parties came to an agreement on a joint electoral list.
|The Meretz list|
Meretz held its primaries on 19 January 2015 at a meeting of its 1,000-member central committee in the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds. Leader Zahava Gal-On was re-elected as head of the party, whilst MK Nitzan Horowitz chose not to stand.
Other participating parties
The 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 in 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 Ubizchutan ("And By [female] Their 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.
Other parties running again after failing to cross the threshold in the previous election are the Pirate Party, Or, Protecting Our Children - Stop Feeding Them Porn, HaTikva LeShinui ("The Hope for Change"), and the Finance Party headed by the Goldstein brothers.
Other parties running for the first time in this election are Democratura, Manhigut Hevratit ("Social Leadership"), 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 ("Flower").
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 spot for 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 current MKs, Kadima is not running in this election at all.
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 change may exclude many of the smaller parties, and could result in some mergers. The vote was boycotted by the opposition. It is expected that the smallest parties in the Knesset under this new threshold will have 4 seats.
Joint electoral lists
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 List.
Two parties can make an agreement so that the sum of both parties' surplus votes are combined, and if the combined surplus votes amounts to an extra seat, then the extra seat goes to the party with the larger number of surplus votes. The following agreements were signed by parties prior to the election:
- 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 Jerusalem area
- Slot reserved for candidate from the Negev region
- Slot reserved for an immigrant
- "Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu fires 2 ministers, election likely". CBC News. 2 December 2014.
- Netanyahu says Israel could be headed to early election Reuters, 1 December 2014
- Accusing Lapid and Livni of attempted ‘putsch,’ Netanyahu fires them, calls elections Times of Israel, 2 December 2014
- Israel's next election to be held on March 17, Knesset faction heads decide Haaretz, 3 December 2014
- Knesset votes to dissolve, sets new elections for March 17 Times of Israel, 8 December 2014
- Knesset votes to dissolve; new elections called for March 17 The Times of Israel, 3 December 2014
- "Benny Begin named to safe slot on Likud Knesset list". Times of Israel. 29 January 2015.
- "Likud members vote on Netanyahu’s request to advance date of leadership race". Haaretz. 10 December 2014.
- "Netanyahu to call for December 25 Likud primaries". Times of Israel. 5 November 2014.
- "Danny Danon submits candidacy for Likud leadership". Times of Israel. 8 December 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
- "Likud court knocks down vote for earlier primaries". Times of Israel. 15 December 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
- "Likud to hold early primaries after all". Times of Israel. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
- "Likud comptroller disqualifies Netanyahu from Likud leadership race; PM likely to appeal". Jerusalem Post. 24 December 2014.
- "Likud comptroller seeks to bar PM from running for party leadership". Times of Israel. 24 December 2014.
- "Likud comptroller clears way for PM to run in primary". Times of Israel. 20 December 2014.
- "The day Netanyahu regained control of Likud". The Times of Israel. 1 January 2015.
- "Moshe Feiglin leaving Likkud". Jerusalem Post. 5 January 2015.
- "Feiglin not running in election". Jerusalem Post. 11 January 2015. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
- "Labor primary results: Yachimovich, Shaffir, Shmuly nab first spots". ynet. 14 January 2015.
- "Labor-Hatnua to approve list". Jerusalem Post. 25 January 2015.
- "Environmentalist Yael Cohen Paran chosen for 24th spot on Labor-Hatnua list". Jerusalem Post. 25 January 2015.
- "Two Israeli parties unite against Netanyahu". Al Jazeera English. 11 December 2014.
- Alliance Adds Twist to Israeli Elections. The New York Times. 10 December 2014.
- "Labor holds primaries to elect its Knesset slate". Times of Israel. 13 January 2015. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
- "Yadlin Not Seeking a Knesset Seat". Yeshiva World News. 20 January 2015.
- "Israel election updates / Labor OKs Knesset slate; Livni: Netanyahu is on his way out". 25 January 2015.
- "Israel's Labor Party finalizes its election slate". Haaretz. 26 January 2015.
- "Final Jewish Home List Released". Israel National News. 16 January 2015.
- "Jewish Home Party Primaries Under Threat?". Israel National News. 13 January 2015. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
- "Smotrich, Struk and Kalfa Elected to Tekuma's Knesset List". Israel National News. 12 January 2015.
- Lewis, Avi (January 12, 2015). "Jewish Home faction Tekumah selects Knesset candidates". The Times of Israel. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
- "בנט: "מתקרב היום שאנחנו ננהיג את המדינה"". NRG.
- "Yesh Atid’s new Knesset list promises continuity". Times of Israel. 25 January 2015.
- Winer, Stuart. "Yair Lapid says sorry, sorta". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
- Sharon, Itamar. "Lapid last among ministers in public approval poll". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
- Ben Zion, Ilan. "Lapid most ‘disappointing’ politician of the year, poll finds". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
- Blank, Cynthia. "Lapid: Yesh Atid is Running Alone for 20th Knesset". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
- Ezra, Hezki. "Third Yesh Atid MK Quits Politics". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
- "Candidates - Elections 2015". J Street.
- Butnick, Stephanie. "Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu to Split From Likud". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
- "Israel election updates / Kulanu, Habayit Hayehudi present election lists". Haaretz.
- "Israel election updates / Netanyahu slots Benny Begin as No. 11 on Likud list". Haaretz. 29 January 2015.
- "Popular ex-Likud minister launches new party". Times of Israel. 3 December 2014.
- "Ex-Likud minister Kahlon to call his new party Kulanu". Times of Israel. 10 December 2014.
- "Kulanu candidate barred from running in March elections". Times of Israel. 26 January 2015.
- "Arab parties to run as one list in upcoming elections". Ynetnews. 22 January 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
- "Tibi's Ta'al party picks lawyer for second slot". Jerusalem Post. 27 January 2015.
- "Arab parties finalize unity deal". Times of Israel. 22 January 2014.
- As Arab MKs unite, a new political landscape emerges Times of Israel, 28 January 2015
- Tibi's Ta'al party picks lawyer for second slot The Jerusalem Post, 27 January 2014
- Bernstein, Benjamin. "Yahadut Hatorah list announced". ISRAELECTIONS. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
- "Hareidi-Religious Fear Loss of Nationalist Votes". Israel National News. 22 December 2014.
- Sontag, Deborah (4 September 2000). "In a Divided Israel, Thousands Rally for the Ex-Shas Party Leader as He Goes to Jail". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
- Kessel, Jerrold (3 September 2000). "Israeli political leader goes to jail after emotional send-off". CNN. Retrieved 10 October 2007.
- אלי ישי: "ש"ס היא ביתו הטבעי של אריה דרעי, קורא לו לחזור" (in Hebrew). 9 January 2012. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
- "Deri Rejects Rav Ovadia's Offer for #3 Slot". 29 April 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
- Ettinger, Yair (17 October 2012). "As Israeli elections near, Shas party seals deal on joint leadership". Haaretz. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
- "Aryeh Deri restored as Shas leader, Eli Yishai is out". Israel Hayom. 3 May 2013.
- Kalman, Aaron (5 May 2013). "I promised Deri he'd return to lead party, Shas rabbi says". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
- Soffer, Ari. "Explosive Tape Shows Rabbi Yosef Slamming 'Evil' Aryeh Deri". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
- Ettinger, Yair. "Shas rabbis reject Aryeh Deri's resignation request". Haaretz. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
- "Threats and backlash for ultra-Orthodox women seeking political voice". 1 December 2014.
- "Yishai's List Finalizes - With Marzel, But Not Ben-Ari". Arutz Sheva. 29 January 2015. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
- "Ha'am Itanu Party Will Demand Adoption of Levy Report". Arutz Sheva. 17 February 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
- "Ex-Shas MK Yishai called ‘traitor’ as he unveils new party". Times of Israel. 15 December 2014.
- "Far-right Jewish Strength party to run for Knesset". Jerusalem Post. 14 December 2014.
- "Meretz primary puts incumbent MKs on top of Knesset slate". Haaretz. 26 January 2015.
- "Historical first: Haredi women’s party formed". Israel Elections. 19 January 2015. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
- "ובזכותן - חרדיות עושות שינוי". Central Elections Committee. 1 February 2015.
- "Pirates, potheads and pageantry: Parties submit lists for election". Jerusalem Post. 28 January 2015.
- "26 parties submit final lists for election". Jerusalem Post. 30 January 2015.
- "רשימות המועמדים לכנסת". Central Elections Committee. 1 February 2015.
- "Israel election updates/ Lieberman: Islamic Movement's northern branch should be outlawed". Haaretz. 8 January 2015.
- "Mofaz won’t join Labor, Yadlin a strong possibilty (sic)". 19 January 2015. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
- "Mofaz Resigns from Politics". Arutz Sheva. 28 January 2015.
- "Mofaz: My Biggest Mistake Was Joining Netanyahu's Coalition". Israel National News. 1 February 2015.
- "Israel ups threshold for Knesset seats despite opposition boycott". Reuters. 11 March 2014.
- "Yisrael Beytenu may not make the cut, 'Post' poll finds". Jerusalem Post. 26 December 2014.
- The Distribution of Knesset Seats Among the Lists – the Bader-Offer Method, Knesset website
- "Meretz and Labor sign vote-sharing agreement". The Jerusalem Post. 2014-12-08.
- Official website of the Knesset
- FAQ: Elections in Israel by Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- 2015 Israel Election News Bulletins
- Collected news and commentary at Ynetnews