Voting Day in Israel – for Nationalist Party Leader

Americans are not the only ones voting Tuesday. In Israel, 54,000 party members can vote for the leader of the Jewish Home party.<br/>

Contact Editor
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu,

Bennett (left) and Orlev
Bennett (left) and Orlev
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Americans are not the only ones voting Tuesday. In Israel, 54,000 party members will vote today for the leader of the Jewish Home party.

The three candidates are veteran Jewish Home Knesset Member Zevulun Orlev,  Naftali Bennett, former aide to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and until recently director of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria and relative unknown, Yehuda Cohen.

Bennett and Orlev are considered to be the main rivals in the campaign.

Voting takes place from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 168 poling stations throughout the country. Each party member must vote in his own precinct, except for soldiers, those serving in national service (Sherut Leumi) and yeshiva students, who can vote in the closest precinct to their base or school.

Israel’s two nationalist parties, Ichud Leumi (National Union) and Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home), will run together in the January 22 elections in hopes of bringing the entire nationalist - and primarily the burgeoning religious Zionist sector - to vote for a strong party that represents their varied needs instead of voting Likud, Shas and even Yesh Atid.

Knesset members are chosen according to the number of votes, with each seat “worth” a certain number of voters, depending on many people cast ballots. If running separately, each party would likely be left with thousands of votes that would not be enough to elect an additional Knesset Member, since pooling agreements give the one with a larger overflow the overflow votes of the other do not always reach the critical point, while their combined numbers could increase the representation.

In the current Knesset, Jewish Home holds three seats in the Knesset, and the National Union has four seats. Polls predict 2-3 additional Knesset members if they unite, while the pool of potential voters is nearer 15 - and the union of the Likud and Yisrael Beytenu is expected to bring religious Zionist voters back to the religious party.

The Jewish Home is in the coalition, while National Union remained in the Opposition after Prime Minister Netanyahu refused to promise he would not recognize the Palestinian Authority as an independent entity.