Thirty-four parties have submitted their final lists to elections officials and will run for Knesset in the February elections. In the most recent elections, 31 parties vied for the 120 Knesset seats.
The United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party and HaTikva-National Union submitted their lists shortly before the deadline. Both parties had conducted last minute internal negotiations to unite various factions—UTJ reached a deal keeping the Degel HaTorah and Agudat Yisrael factions under one roof, while HaTikva-NU united the HaTikva party lead by Aryeh Eldad with the Jewish Front party of Baruch Marzel and Rabbi Shalom Wolpe and the Tekuma and Moledet factions of the NU.
The Likud party also submitted its list at the last minute, after reaching a deal integrating National Union MK Effie Eitam into the party list. Eitam will be in slot 39. His presence on the party list will allow the Likud to spend an additional 12 million shekels on its campaign.
The list of parties in the race includes three “green” factions: the List for a Green Israel, the Green Party-Meimad and the Green Leaf party. Each of the three lists environmental issues as a central part of its platform. The Green Leaf party is also known for its fight to legalize marijuana.
Two parties hoping to enter the Knesset for the first time are the Youth in Israel party and the Green Leaf with Holocaust Survivors party. The latter party is running independently of the Green Leaf party, but many of its members are former members of Green Leaf.
The parties currently in the lead are Likud, Kadima, Yisrael Beiteinu, Labor and Shas. Polls show Likud beating Kadima by between one and 11 seats, although one poll conducted last week showed Kadima in the lead with 30 seats to Likud's 29. Yisrael Beiteinu is expected to increase its Knesset representation, while Labor is expected to suffer a significant drop to 9-11 seats.