Understanding Israeli Politics

Now that’s an oxymoron. No one can understand Israeli politics.

It is more confusing than American Politics.

But here are some basic facts to help you sort it out.

The Israeli Knesset consist of 120 members. The people vote for parties not for an individual as we do in the US. In order to have a seat in the Knesset, a party must meet the current threshold of 3.25% of the overall vote. The leader of the party decides who will be seated in his party in the Knesset and he or she assigns a ranking to them to determine their place on the list.

The Prime Minister must have at least 61 seats in order to have a majority. Since no party has these many seats, the main party has to have the support and cooperation of the parties that have less representation. This means that the parties with less representation can make demands on the Prime Minister in order to get their support.

While it is expected that the parties want something in exchange for their support, sometimes their demands are extreme and only represent their self-interest and not the national interest for the good of the country. This means that the Prime Minister and the main party is often hostage to the whims and demands of the smaller parties to the detriment of the country.

While the Almighty will decide who will be the next Prime Minister (Daniel 4:17), the President of Israel will talk with the leading candidates and decide which one he thinks has the best chance of forming a working, stable government. He will then give that person the chance to do so. If he or she cannot do this, Israel will go to even a third election.

The recent voting numbers are as follow:

33 seats Blue and White:  Liberal led by Benny Gantz
31 seats Likud: Conservative – led by Bibi Netanyahu
13 seats The Joint List: Anti-Israel Arab Party
9 seats Shas: Ultra-Orthodox
8 seats Yisrael Beytenu: Ultra Conservative led by Avigdor Lieberman
8 seats UTJ: United Torah-Judaism – Orthodox
7 seats Yamina: Conservative led by Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennet
6 seats Labor-Gesher: 4.80% – Liberal
5 seats Democratic Union: 4.34% – Ultra Liberal