2021 Israeli legislative election

Status on Sunday, June 13, 2021
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Go to update on April 8 2022 with resignation of government whip.

Legislative elections were held in Israel to elect the members of the 24th Knesset on 23 March 2021.

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Note that the entire country constitutes a single electoral constituency. In Israel's proportional representation system, candidates represent national parties and not electoral districts or local constituencies. All registered Israeli citizens 18 years and over are entitled to vote. The 120 Knesset seats are then assigned in proportion to each party's percentage of the total national vote with the minimum required threshold for a party to be represented in the Knesset currently 3.25% of the total votes cast. In the 2021 election, with 4,410,052 valid votes, this represented a minimum of 143,327 votes.

Click here for FAQ from the 2015 general election published by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This Israeli legislative election
← 2020 23 March 2021

All 120 seats in the Knesset
61 seats needed for a majority
Party Leader Seats Before VoteCount 25Mar
Previous Opposition, Now the New Government
Yesh Atid
Yair Lapid 1617
Religious Nationalism
Naftali Bennett 56
Blue and White
Benny Gantz 158
Yisrael Beiteinu
Revisionist Zionism
Avigdor Lieberman 77
Social Democracy
Merav Michaeli 17
New Hope
includes Derekh Eretz
Economic Liberalism
Gideon Sa'ar 26
Social Democracy
Nitzan Horowitz 36
Arab Interests (Thunder)
Mansour Abbas 04
Total 4961

Previous Coalition
Benjamin Netanyahu 3630
Religious Zionist
Ultranational Zionism
Bezalel Smotrich 06
Religious Conservatism
Aryeh Deri 99
Torah Judaism
Yaakov Litzman 77
Labor (split)
Social Democracy
Amir Peretz
Itzik Shmuli
Social Liberalism
Orly Levy 10
Jewish Home
Religious Nationalism
Hagit Moshe 10
Total 5652

Also in Opposition
Joint List
Arab Interests
Ayman Odeh 156
Yamina (split)
Religious Nationalism
Amichai Chikli 01
New Prime MinisterPrevious Prime Minister
Naftali Bennett
Benjamin Netanyahu

According to the coalition agreement signed between Likud and Blue and White in 2020, elections were to be held 36 months after the swearing-in of the 35th government, making 23 May 2023 the next election date. However, Israeli law stipulates that if the 2020 state budget was not passed by 23 December 2020, the Knesset would be dissolved and elections would be held by 23 March 2021.

On 2 December 2020, the Knesset passed the preliminary reading of a bill to dissolve the current government by a vote of 61–54. On 21 December 2020, the Knesset failed to pass a bill to avoid this dispersal by a vote of 47-49. Since the Knesset had failed to approve the 2020 state budget by the required deadline, at midnight IST on 23 December 2020, the government coalition collapsed and the 23rd Knesset was officially dissolved. In accordance with the law that the election must be held within 90 days after the dissolution of the Knesset, the date for elections to the 24th Knesset was automatically set for 23 March 2021.

Update April 8 2022

Israel’s government faces crisis after Idit Silman quits

Israelis protest in Jerusalem on Wednesday after a surge in attacks that has left the government vulnerable to charges it is weak on terrorism. Picture: Getty Images

Israel’s government faces crisis after Idit Silman quits
The Australian
Dov Lieber, Wall Street Journal
Friday April 8 2022

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government faces a crisis after a member quit the ruling coalition, leaving it without a majority in parliament less than a year since coming to power.

Idit Silman, the coalition’s de facto whip, in a letter to Mr Bennett late on Wednesday, said she was resigning over disagreements about the country’s Jewish character. She has clashed with the Health Minister over whether leavened grain products should be allowed in hospitals during the coming Passover religious holiday. In Jewish tradition, such products are removed from public spaces and not consumed during the holiday.

Her resignation leaves the government with 60 members backing it in the 120-member Knesset. The coalition can continue to govern without a majority but it will struggle to pass laws, requiring support from opposition members. With one more resignation, the government could collapse. That would give the opposition a potential majority in a vote to dissolve parliament and send the country to a fifth election in a little over three years.

Still, even if a second coalition member resigns, the opposition would struggle to form its own government without the support of the Joint List, a union of Arab Israeli parties, to dissolve parliament and set up new elections. Political analysts are sceptical that could happen due to the Joint List’s animosity toward former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the opposition leader.

While the Knesset is in recess for the next five weeks the opposition would need the government’s support to hold a vote to dissolve parliament. Chen Friedberg, a senior lecturer of political science at Ariel University, said it was unlikely the government would dissolve before parliament is back in session.

Israel has held four elections since 2019, with voters divided over whether Mr Netanyahu should rule while on trial for corruption. Mr Bennett came to power in June 2021 after a mix of left-wing, centrist and right-wing parties, including for the first time an independent Arab party, united in their opposition to Mr Netanyahu. The parties’ deep ideological differences have created an unwieldy alliance. Members have clashed over West Bank settlements, Palestinians and questions of religion and state.

“Unfortunately, I cannot lend a hand to harming the Jewish identity of the state of Israel,” Ms Silman, a member of Mr Bennett’s right-wing Yamina party, wrote in her resignation letter. Mr Bennett blamed months of incitement against Ms Silman by Mr Netanyahu for her defection. He said coalition leaders are committed to maintaining the government. “The alternative,” he said, “is more elections and then maybe more elections, and a return to the days of dangerous instability to the state of Israel.”

If another member of Mr Bennett’s bloc defects and a vote is held to dissolve the Knesset, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid would become the interim prime minister under a rotation deal reached when the government was founded.

Polls show Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party remains the most popular, especially among right-wing voters, but he lacks a clear majority to form a government of his own. Mr Netanyahu could also form an alternative government without new elections. This, too, would be challenging.

Without the Joint List, Mr Netanyahu has 54 members in his right-wing nationalist camp. He would need to entice at least seven more. Members in Mr Bennett’s right-wing and religious party, which numbered seven after elections and is now down to five, are aligned with Mr Netanyahu, but formed an alternative coalition after he failed to get 61 members to support him due largely to his corruption charges.

The crisis comes after a burst of terrorist attacks that has left the government vulnerable to charges from the right-wing opposition that it is weak against terrorism. The opposition could potentially prevail if Mr Netanyahu agreed to yield the prime minister role. So far, he has vowed to continue leading his party. For now, Israeli political analysts believe the current coalition could survive until March 2023, when it needs a majority to pass a budget. Failure to pass it would automatically trigger new elections.

“The only guaranteed thing is we’re back in a crisis mode,” said Yohanan Plesner, president of the Jerusalem-based think tank the Israel Democracy Institute.


Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi. Credit: Knesset spokesperson

Bennett Coalition Becomes Minority (temporarily)
Extract from Haaretz
Tel Aviv
Thursday May 19 2022

Meretz lawmaker Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi announced on Thursday that she is quitting Israel's ruling government, leaving the coalition with 59 of the Knesset's 120 seats. In her resignation letter, Rinawie Zoabi wrote that she had joined the coalition in hopes that Arabs and Jews working together might help bring about "a new path of equality and respect," but that coalition leaders had chosen to take "hawkish, hard-line and right-wing positions."

In the letter, Rinawie Zoabi cited violence at the Temple Mount and the funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, as leading her to make "a moral decision." Rinawie Zoabi, however, is still serving as a lawmaker in the Knesset. It is still not clear if she intends to vote with the opposition in future votes.

Her departure could significantly damage the government's ability to function. Regardless of how she votes in the future, it's doubtful that her exit will pave the way for opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu to successfully pass a vote of no-confidence and form his own coalition – as there are not enough opposition members in support of a Netanyahu-led government. However, if the Knesset votes on dissolving the Knesset, Rinawie Zoabi's vote could be the deciding vote that sends the country to an election.

Update Sunday night: After meeting with senior minister Yair Lapid on Sunday, Ms Rinawie Zoabi said she would rejoin the coalition following intense pressure from Arab municipal officials worried about an alternative government that would likely include hard-right figures. “Since I came to serve the local Arab authorities and to bring achievements for the needs of Arab society, I will support the coalition. But I also want that this government will be genuine and attentive to the needs of Arab society,” she said. Mr Lapid said “we have put this argument behind us”.

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