Neil Lazarus
An internationally acclaimed expert in the fields of Middle East politics, public diplomacy and effective communication training.

Elections in Israel: A guide for the confused

Prime Minister Netanyahu has declared early elections, scheduled to take place within three months. These elections will enable Israelis to decide how to resolve crucial issues facing the country, including the country’s policy toward Iran, the Palestinians, socioeconomic issues and the role of religion in the Jewish state.

How does it work?

Israel has a system of voting that is directly proportional, where each party is granted seats in the Knesset in proportion to the number of seats the party receives.

Unlike the UK or USA there are no members of parliament or Knesset members standing directly for election; nor are there geographical constituencies or voting districts. Israelis just vote for a party.

Who decides the party list?

The position of a member of Knesset on his party list is crucial, as it can decide whether they will sit in the Knesset. While some parties decide the list by primaries (e.g. Likud, Labor), others will be determined by leading rabbis (Shas, United Torah Judaism)

The only condition is that the party reaches a threshold of 2 percent of all votes cast in order to receive it’s first seat in the Knesset

Who can vote?

Any Israeli citizen over the age of 18. Absentee ballots are only available to Israeli diplomats and soldiers at sea.

How often do elections take place?

Theoretically, every four years — but this is Israel so that’s seldom the case.

How are seats distributed?

The lists that pass the qualifying threshold receive a number of Knesset seats proportional to their electoral strength. This is done by dividing the valid votes given to the lists by 120, in order to determine how many votes entitle a list to a single seat.

Tell us who you want to be the next Prime minister of Israel and why.

About the Author
Neil Lazarus is an internationally acclaimed expert in the field of Middle East Politics, Israel Public Diplomacy and Effective Communication Training. He is the the director of He is emerging as one of Israel's leading key note speakers. He regularly podcasts.