28 February 2020
A reflection by Noa Ohayon Bab, The Jewish Federation’s Senior Shlicha
On March 3, Israelis will head to the polls once again as the country tries to form a government for the third time in less than a year. Around 5,200 Israelis who live abroad have already begun casting ballots. Israeli citizens living in Greater Washington (including me!) voted on February 19.
So, how did we get here?
The last two elections (for the 21st Knesset, Israeli parliament, in April 2019 and for the 22nd in September 2019), failed to result in a government. There are 120 seats in the Knesset, meaning a coalition needs at least 61 seats to form the next Israeli government. If no coalition can reach that minimum threshold, new elections are called.
In the last election, the Likud Party and its right-wing allies (, and United Torah Judaism) received 55 seats. The Blue and White Party, along with three leftist parties (Labor-Gesher, the Democratic Union, and the Joint List), received 57 seats.
So, what’s different this time?
Ahead of the upcoming elections, smaller parties on both the left and the right have combined, meaning it will be easier for the bigger parties to build coalitions that promise more seats.
The two major ideological blocs are split on their stances regarding territorial issues and the relationship between synagogue and state. As in the last round, Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) seems to straddle the divide. Yisrael Beiteinu considers itself as right-wing, secular, and liberal (regarding synagogue and state issues) party. One of the unclear trends of the upcoming round is the path that the Arab party, The Joint List, will take. To learn more, you can read this helpful Wikipedia article on the upcoming election.
There is room for optimism, though.
Last year’s election deadlock created discourse around the need for a united government. Though we can’t predict with certainty what will happen, there’s reason to believe Israel might soon have a government coalition of parties with a more united vision. Stay tuned!