Ruth Lieberman

Israel Elections 101 (A)


By the end of this month, we should have a new government in Israel. Probably led by the Likud, with some natural partners and some other question marks as to who the partners will be.

All this is up in the air, until the President formally and according to Israeli law, bestows the act of coalition building on the leader of his choice. Due to the overwhelming results yesterday, this seems to be Binyamin Netanyahu.

This substantial win is supported by the 71.8% voter turnout, Israel’s highest since 1999; and the number of parties passing the threshold is 10, the smallest since 1992. This all lends serious stability to our parliamentary system and will hopefully make it easier to rule – a more efficient, well-focused coalition with official guidelines and policies for implementation.


What we can know for sure is the make up of the Knesset – the 120 members whose party slates received varying amounts of support from the voters in this democratic election. But wait – we don’t even know that yet, while we await the official results after the for soldiers’ votes are counted. Expect some wavering, here and there, but in general we do have a good sense of the political landscape for this, Israel’s 20th Knesset.

knesset plenum w flag

Return: 120 members of the Knesset represent the people of Israel, reminiscent of the 120 elders of ancient Israel’s Sanhedrin leadership. 

Barring slight changes, we will see 38 new Knesset members, from among the various parties. And we will enjoy the already-celebrated record 28 female parliamentarians – certainly a record in Israel and I daresay it’d be tough for Congress to reach that goal in the near future. Of this we are proud.
The Israeli-Arab population in Israel, with full rights including the right to vote, of course, boasts 17 Members of Knesset, up from 12, partially due to their uniting on the ballot. Two of these MKs serve in the large Likud and Labor (Zionist Camp) parties. Remind your friends what a vibrant, diverse democracy Israel really is!


The parties must file, one by one, into President Rivlin’s office, to declare their support for one of the leading candidates as Prime Minister. Rivlin will then tally the results and give someone the right to attempt formation of a coalition government. The horse-trading, which has already begun, will be partially public and somewhat secret as the parties vie for positions.


The people of Israel will probably be presented with a new government led by the Likud (30) within three weeks or so. Look for parties such as the ultraorthodox Shas (7) and United Torah Judaism (13) trying to join a Netanyahu coalition; or he could choose Yesh Atid (11) instead. Kulanu’s main demand is head Kachlon as Finance Minister, something the Likud can certainly live with. And the most natural partner, Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home – 8), will probably be a major catalyst in making these decisions. 


As the Passover holiday approaches, we get down to clearing the chametz, the crumbs of our everyday lives. Our spring cleaning is a physical and mental exercise at renewal and we rise to the occasion with optimism.

spring cleaning1

Long live democracy, the State of Israel, and the challenge of governance, as we join hands as a nation – with the clarity of effective leadership and the strength to create a viable Zionist homeland together.


About the Author
Ruth Lieberman is an Israeli-based political consultant and licensed tour guide, combining her love of Israel with political acumen to better Israel's standing both at home and in the eyes of the world. She has consulted for political leaders in Jerusalem and in Washington, from work on election campaigns to public advocacy and events. Her tours in Israel connect Biblical history to modern realities, to highlight Israel's achievements and promote its policies. She's also added 'archaeologist' to her title, working on an advanced degree in the field.
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