September 2019 Israeli legislative election

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September 2019 Israeli legislative election
← Apr 2019 17 September 2019

All 120 seats in the Knesset
Party Leader Current seats
Likud Benjamin Netanyahu 35
Blue and White Benny Gantz 35
Shas Aryeh Deri 8
UTJ Yaakov Litzman 8
HadashTa'al Ayman Odeh 6
Labor Avi Gabbay 6
Yisrael Beiteinu Avigdor Lieberman 5
United Right Rafi Peretz 5
Meretz Tamar Zandberg 4
Kulanu Moshe Kahlon 4
Ra'amBalad Mansour Abbas 4
Incumbent Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu 2018.jpg Benjamin Netanyahu (interim)

Snap legislative elections are due to be held in Israel on 17 September 2019 to elect the 120 members of the 22nd Knesset. Following the prior elections in April, incumbent and Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition, the first such failure in Israeli history. On 30 May, the Knesset voted to dissolve itself and trigger new elections, in order to prevent Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz from being appointed Prime Minister-designate.[1] This election was the first time that the Knesset voted to dissolve itself before a government had been formed.[2]


Following the April 2019 elections, Likud leader and incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had until the end of 29 May to form a governing coalition, including a two-week extension granted by President Reuven Rivlin.[3] Should the deadline pass without a coalition being formed, Rivlin would be tasked with appointing a new Prime Minister-designate, presumed to be Blue and White party head Benny Gantz.[4]

Negotiations between Netanyahu and a number of potential coalition partners stalled.[5] One sticking point between Netanyahu and Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman was the passage of the draft law, which is opposed by the Haredi parties in the coalition.[6] The law would remove the current exemption of yeshiva students from conscription.[7] Netanyahu needed both Yisrael Beitenu and the Haredi parties in his coalition in order to have enough seats to form a majority.[8]

As an alternative, Netanyahu approached Labor about the possibility of their support, but they rejected the offer. Meanwhile, Netanyahu's legal troubles overshadowed further possible coalition negotiations, with Blue and White refusing to work with him in the circumstances. The new elections also mean that Netanyahu's proposed immunity law cannot proceed for now.[9]

On 28 May, the Knesset passed on first reading a bill which would dissolve the Knesset and force a snap election. This move was intended to place additional pressure on coalition partners to reach an agreement in time, as well as to prevent Gantz from being given the opportunity to put together a coalition should the deadline pass.[10][4] Later that day, the committee approved the bill for second and third reading.[11]

Late in the evening on 29 May, it was announced that talks had failed. That night, and into the morning of 30 May, the Knesset passed second and third readings of the bill to dissolve itself and force a snap election with a vote of 74 in favour to 45 against.[12] The 45 votes against the resolution came from the entire membership of three parties: the Blue and White alliance (35 votes), Labor party (6 votes), and the Meretz party (4 votes). All other Knesset members voted for the resolution, with the exception of Roy Folkman, who was absent.[13]

The date for the election was set for 17 September.[1]

Electoral system[edit]

The 120 seats in the Knesset are elected by closed list proportional representation in a single nationwide constituency. The electoral threshold for the election is 3.25%. In most cases, this implies a minimum party size of four seats, but it is mathematically possible for a party to pass the electoral threshold and have only three seats (since 3.25% of 120 members = 3.9 members).[14]

Surplus-vote agreements[edit]

Two parties can sign an agreement that allows them to compete for leftover seats as though they are running together on the same list. The Bader–Ofer method disproportionately favors larger lists, meaning that such an alliance is more likely to receive leftover seats than both of its comprising lists would be individually. If the alliance receives leftover seats, the Bader–Ofer calculation is then applied privately, to determine how the seats are divided among the two allied lists.[15]

Parliamentary factions[edit]

The table below lists the parliamentary factions represented in the 21st Knesset.

Name Ideology Primary demographic Leader April 2019 result
Votes (%) Seats
Likud Conservatism, National conservatism, National liberalism, Right-wing populism - Benjamin Netanyahu 26.46%
35 / 120
Blue and White Big tent, Liberalism - Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid 26.13%
35 / 120
Shas Religious conservatism, Populism Sephardi and Mizrahi Haredim Aryeh Deri 5.99%
8 / 120
United Torah Judaism Religious conservatism Ashkenazi Haredim Yaakov Litzman 5.78%
8 / 120
HadashTa'al EcosocialismArab Nationalism Israeli Arabs Ayman Odeh 4.49%
6 / 120
Labor Social democracy, Social Liberalism - Avi Gabbay (Outgoing) 4.43%
6 / 120
Yisrael Beiteinu Nationalism, Secularism, Right-wing populism Russian-speakers Avigdor Lieberman 4.01%
5 / 120
United Right Religious Zionism, Religious conservatism, Right-wing populism Modern Orthodox and Chardal Jews Rafi Peretz 3.70%
5 / 120
Meretz Progressivism, Social democracy, Secularism - Tamar Zandberg 3.63%
4 / 120
Kulanu Conservative liberalism, Economic egalitarianism - Moshe Kahlon 3.54%
4 / 120
Ra'amBalad IslamismArab nationalism Israeli Arabs Mansour Abbas 3.33%
4 / 120

Public expression of interest[edit]

The Likud and Kulanu parties announced on 29 May their intention to run together in the new election.[16]

Right-libertarian Zehut leader Moshe Feiglin announced on 30 May that the party will run in the election, expressed openness to run as part of an alliance on the right,[17] and urged "all political figures who see themselves as part of the freedom camp" to join it.[18] Feiglin and New Right leader Naftali Bennett discussed a potential electoral alliance in a meeting that was described as "long and positive".[19] According to Yedioth Ahronoth, Bennett is interested in a broad alliance, and is also expected to meet with Rafi Peretz of The Jewish Home and Bezalel Smotrich of far-right Tkuma;[20] however, Smotrich was highly critical of the proposed alliance.[21] Bennett is also reportedly "sending out signals" to Itamar Ben-Gvir of far-right Otzma Yehudit.[22] The New Right party stated on 5 June that negotiations with other parties will not start until 15 July.[23] Feiglin has been critical of a potential union of his party with the United Right, while being more open to a technical bloc with the New Right.[24]

Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg and Meretz MK Michal Rozin have called on the Israeli Labor Party to unite with Meretz in a joint list,[25] while Labor chairman Avi Gabbay said on 31 May the party would merge with either Meretz or Blue and White.[26]

The Blue and White alliance confirmed on 2 June 2019 that it will run using the same rotating premiership as in the previous election.[27]

Oren Hazan has stated that he will run in the election, preferably as part of a large right-wing party.[28]

Ayelet Shaked stated on 11 June that she would be running for a Knesset seat, though she did not indicate which party she would run with (ruling out Likud in the process)[29], though she reportedly wants to run as the head of a united right-wing list.[30]

Ehud Barak is exploring a run as part of an independent party in the election[31]; Yair Golan is reportedly expected to join the new party.[32]

Tiberias mayor Ron Cobi will run as part of a new party called Secular Right.[33]

The Ra'am-Balad and Hadash-Ta'al factions announced on 20 June that they have re-established the Joint List in which they ran for the 2015 Israeli legislative election.[34]

Otzma Yehudit has indicated it is seeking alliances with other parties following its split from the United Right.[35]


Some parties, like Likud, Labor, the Jewish Home, Zehut, and Meretz, have systems in which the leadership and most candidates on their lists are elected in primary elections.

Blue and White[edit]

The Blue and White party will emphasize its right-wing bona fides in an effort to gain voters from that sector.[36]

Jewish Home[edit]

The Jewish Home party voted on 19 June 2019 to maintain the same electoral list as the last election, though it left open the possibility of merging with other lists.[37]


Labor will hold its leadership primary on 2 July.[38] Amir Peretz announced on 2 June 2019 that he would run in the primary.[39] The party voted on 23 June to open the primary to all party members;[40] in addition, the party voted to keep the same slate of candidates from the April election, though some shuffling is likely, given the pending resignations of Gabbay and Tal Russo.[38] Russo was considering running,[41] though he announced on 10 June that he was leaving politics.[42] Yair Golan might run as well.[43] Stav Shaffir confirmed on 7 June that she would run.[44] Avi Gabbay announced on 11 June that he would not run again for party leader;[45] he announced the following day that he was quitting politics.[46] Itzik Shmuli announced on 12 June that he would run.[47]


Former MK Nitzan Horowitz announced on 10 June that he would run for the Meretz leadership.[48] Issawi Frej and Mossi Raz announced on 12 June that they would run the party jointly, if they win the leadership race,[49] though they dropped out on 17 June and endorsed current leader Tamar Zandberg.[50] The party convention, on 16 June, voted against holding primaries or freezing the current candidate list, instead allowing the party committee to appoint the party leader on 27 June and choose the Knesset slate on 11 July.[51]

Opinion polls[edit]


  1. ^ a b Gil Hoffman; Lahav Harkov (30 May 2019). "Israel goes back to elections as Netanyahu fails to form coalition". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  2. ^ Megan Specia (30 May 2019). "What You Need to Know About Israel's New Elections". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  3. ^ Jeffrey Heller (13 May 2019). "Israel's Netanyahu gets two-week extension to form government". Reuters.
  4. ^ a b "Bill to dissolve Knesset, call elections on September 17 approved in 1st reading". The Times of Israel. 28 May 2019.
  5. ^ Jeffrey Heller (28 May 2019). "Netanyahu could face election rematch after ballot he said he won". Reuters.
  6. ^ Staff writer (28 May 2019). "Liberman: We will not give up on our principles". Arutz Sheva.
  7. ^ "After Netanyahu Fails to Form Government, Israel to Hold New Election". Haaretz. 30 May 2019.
  8. ^ Staff writer (28 May 2019). "PM, Lieberman reportedly drafting deal to avert early election". Israel Hayom. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  9. ^ Kershner, Isabel (29 May 2019). "After Coalition Talks Crumble, Israel on Course for Another Election". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Staff writer. "Netanyahu issues cryptic hint that snap elections may be averted". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  11. ^ Staff writer (28 May 2019). "Bill to dissolve Knesset approved in second and third reading". Arutz Sheva.
  12. ^ "Fresh election in Israel as coalition talks fail". BBC. 29 May 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  13. ^ "Knesset votes for new elections on September 17 after PM fails to form coalition". The Times of Israel. 30 May 2019.
  14. ^ "With Bader-Ofer method, not every ballot counts". The Jerusalem Post. 16 March 2014.
  15. ^ The Distribution of Knesset Seats Among the Lists – the Bader-Offer Method, Knesset website
  16. ^ Marissa Newman (28 May 2019). "Likud okays merger with Kulanu, confirms Netanyahu as PM candidate". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  17. ^ "Feiglin: We're open to alliances on the right". Arutz Sheva. 30 May 2019. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  18. ^ Gil Hoffman (1 June 2019). "Feiglin confirms seeking political bond for Zehut". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  19. ^ Staff writer (3 June 2019). "Feiglin confirms meeting Bennett to discuss cooperating in elections". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  20. ^ "Could new rightist alliance unite Bennett, Feiglin, and Peretz?". Arutz Sheva. 31 May 2019. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  21. ^ "Smotrich to other right-wing parties: Don't run". Arutz Sheva. 2 June 2019. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
  22. ^ "Bennett planning comeback, looking to unite small right-wing parties — report". The Times of Israel. 31 May 2019. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  23. ^ Hezki Baruch (5 June 2019). "'Negotiations? Only in a month and a half'". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  24. ^ Hezki Baruch (12 June 2019). "Feiglin: Union with Shaked - yes, Peretz - no". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  25. ^ Staff writer. "Meretz renews call for merger with Labor as new elections called". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  26. ^ "Labor leader says party will merge with Meretz or Blue and White before election". The Times of Israel. 31 May 2019. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  27. ^ Staff writer (2 June 2019). "Blue and White: Gantz, Lapid to keep deal to rotate premiership". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
  28. ^ Eliran Aharon (1 June 2019). "Oren Hazan: Clock is 'ticking,' Israel's right must unite". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  29. ^ Michael Bachner (11 June 2019). "Ayelet Shaked confirms she will run in September elections". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  30. ^ Staff writer (11 June 2019). "Shaked: I will win the most seats". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  31. ^ Staff writer (21 June 2019). "Ehud Barak confirms looking at new party ahead of elections, denies Labor return". The Times of Israel.
  32. ^ Staff writer (24 June 2019). "Ehud Barak said looking to partner with ex-general Yair Golan to form new party". The Times of Israel.
  33. ^ Sara Rubenstein (16 June 2019). "Anti-haredi Tiberias mayor to run for Knesset". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  34. ^ The Times of Israel Staff writer (20 June 2019). "Israel's Arab parties reunite for upcoming elections". The Times of Israel and Associated Press. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  35. ^ Staff writer (25 June 2019). "Otzma Yehudit breaks away from Jewish Home in spat over Knesset seat". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 25 June 2019. “We are trying to form other unions that will strengthen the right in the coming elections,” Otzma Yehudit informed Peretz, without elaborating.
  36. ^ Staff writer (10 June 2019). "Blue and White targeting right-wing voters ahead of new election". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  37. ^ "Jewish Home: Party list will remain as it is". Arutz Sheva. 19 June 2019. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  38. ^ a b Paul Shindman (23 June 2019). "Embattled Labor Party to vote for new leader on July 2". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  39. ^ Chaim Lev (2 June 2019). "Amir Peretz to run for Labor chairman". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
  40. ^ "Labor leadership elections will take place on July 2". Arutz Sheva. 23 June 2019. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  41. ^ "Ex-general Tal Russo mulls run for Labor leader". Ynet. 3 June 2019. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  42. ^ David Rosenberg (10 June 2019). "MK Tal Russo, second on Labor list, quits politics". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  43. ^ Staff writer (5 June 2019). "Second former top general could join race to lead embattled Labor party". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  44. ^ Staff writer (7 June 2019). "Labor's Stav Shaffir announces leadership bid in next month's primary". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  45. ^ Staff writer (11 June 2019). "Embattled Labor chief Gabbay says he won't seek reelection". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  46. ^ Stuart Winer; Staff writer (12 June 2019). "After stormy term, Labor chief Gabbay announces he is quitting politics". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  47. ^ Staff writer (12 June 2019). "Labor MK Shmuli announces bid for party leadership". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  48. ^ יהונתן ליס (10 June 2019). "ח"כ לשעבר ניצן הורוביץ הודיע כי יתמודד על ראשות מרצ". Haaretz (in Hebrew). Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  49. ^ Alexander Fulbright (12 June 2019). "Meretz members launch joint 'Arab-Jewish leadership' run". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  50. ^ Jacob Magid (17 June 2019). "Arab-Jewish Meretz leadership candidates exit race, endorse Zandberg". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  51. ^ Staff writer (17 June 2019). "Meretz to appoint leader June 27, decide on election slate in July". The Times of Israel.