Israel Votes:
Which parties are running - and who is likely to get in?

A who's who guide to Tuesday's Israeli Knesset election. Who are the parties and candidates vying for all of the Knesset's 120 seats?

David Rosenberg, | updated: 13:42

Likud campaign ad in Jerusalem 2019
Likud campaign ad in Jerusalem 2019
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

(This is the second part in a two-part guide on the 2019 Knesset election. Click here for part one)

On Tuesday, some 4.4 million Israeli voters will head to the polls, choosing from forty parties and joint lists running for the 21st Knesset.

Ten to fourteen of the 40 Knesset slates competing in the election are likely to actually pass the 3.25% electoral threshold and enter Israel’s parliament, while at least 26 parties are expected to fall short of the projected 144,000-145,000 (3.25%) or so votes needed to cross the threshold.

The 10 parties most likely to enter the 21st Knesset

A quarter of the 40 parties running in Tuesday’s election are widely expected to clear the electoral threshold, having been projected to win at least four seats in every pre-election poll conducted over the past 30 days. They include the Blue and White party, the Likud, Labor, Meretz, United Torah Judaism, Shas, the Union of Right-Wing Parties, the New Right, Zehut, and Hadash-Ta’al.

Gantz (left) and Lapid (right)
צילום: שריה דיאמנט

The Blue and White Party

Party Type: Joint list of three separate factions (Israel Resilience, Yesh Atid, Telem)
Alignment: Center (self-declared) to Center-Left
Current number of MKs: 11 (Yesh Atid)
Chairman: Benny Gantz
Polling at: 27 – 32 seats

A joint ticket of the existing Yesh Atid faction and the newly-established Israel Resilience and Telem parties, the Blue and White alliance was formed in February and has presented itself as a centrist alternative to the ruling Likud party.

The joint list is led by former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, who chairs the Israel Resilience faction, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, and former Defense Minister and ex-IDF chief of staff Moshe Yaalon, who heads the Telem faction.

Blue and White’s platform emphasizes the security bona fides of its three generals – Gantz, Yaalon, and Ashkenazi – and eschewing the right-left divide, offering itself as a kind of radical centrist alternative.

According to the party’s platform, the Blue and White list backs territorial compromise with the Palestinian Authority and “separation from the Palestinians”, while calling for maintaining Israeli sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem, as well as Israeli security control over the Jordan Valley along the border with Jordan.

On social issues and matters of religion-and-state, the Blue and White party endorses a number of key left-wing positions, such as civil marriage - including same-sex marriages – and expanded public transportation on the Sabbath.

The party also vows increased social spending and greater state intervention in the economy to bring down the cost of living, and proposed the appointment of a ‘cost of living tsar’ to coordinate efforts to bring down the price of housing food, and other necessities.

Since its formation in February, the Blue and White has become the frontrunner for the April election, and in the final pre-election polling, led the Likud by an average of one mandate.

Netanyahu at Likud faction meeting
Flash 90

The Likud

Party Type: Single faction list
Alignment: Center-Right to Right-Wing
Current number of MKs: 30
Chairman: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Polling at: 26 – 31 seats

The Likud, Israel’s big-tent conservative party, has governed for 31 of the last 42 years since it first took power in 1977. Originally formed in 1973 as a joint list of nationalist and classical liberal parties, the Likud was formally established as a unified movement in 1988.

The party has long backed the settlement movement in Judea and Samaria, and in December 2017, the party’s central committee voted unanimously to back the annexation of “all areas of liberated settlement in Judea and Samaria.”

On April 6th, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that he would pursue the annexation of Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria if reelected as premier.

Fiscally conservative and emphasizing economic growth, the Likud backs additional tax cuts, the reduction of business regulation, and the reform of some government-owned companies.

With a broad base of secular, traditional, and religious voters, the Likud has pledged to protect the Status Quo compromise on issues of religion-and-state, and has backed demands by haredi coalition partners to strengthen enforcement of Sabbath observance in the public sphere.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has led the party for the past 13 years, his second stint as chairman of the Likud.

Avi Gabbay
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The Israeli Labor Party

Party Type: Single faction list
Alignment: Center-Left to Left-Wing
Current number of MKs: 19
Chairman: Avi Gabbay
Polling at: 8 – 14 seats

Once dominant in Israeli politics, the Labor party has not controlled the premiership since March 2001, when then Prime Minister Ehud Barak was defeated by the Likud’s Ariel Sharon after just one year and eight months in power.

With its roots in the socialist but often hawkish Mapai, Labor has evolved into a progressive-left faction emphasizing the Two-State Solution, the expansion of the welfare state, economic equality, and social liberalism.

While the party managed to win 19 seats in 2015 as part of a joint list with Hatnuah (the union won a total of 24 seats), polls show Labor falling to mid-single digits in the April election.

Like Blue and White, Labor’s 2019 platform emphasizes security and separation from the Palestinian Arab population in Judea and Samaria. Labor explicitly endorses the establishment of a Palestinian state, and provides for the possible eviction of large numbers of Israelis living in Judea and Samaria.

On socio-economic issues, the Labor party mirrors the social-democratic parties of the European Left, and increasingly, the Democratic Party in the US. Labor’s platform promises to increase social spending, price controls on Israel’s natural gas, raising the minimum wage, public transportation on the Sabbath, the legalization of marijuana, and a full embrace of the LGBT agenda, including recognition of gay marriages and equal rights for same-sex couples.

Labor is currently led by former Environmental Protection Minister and ex-Bezeq company executive Avi Gabbay, who defected from the centrist Kulanu party to Labor in 2016.

Bennett and Shaked
Flash 90

The New Right

Party Type: Single faction list
Alignment: Center-Right to Right-Wing
Current number of MKs: 3
Chairman: Education Minister Naftali Bennett
Polling at: 5 – 6 seats

In December 2018, then-Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, and Shuli Mualem broke away from the Jewish Home party to form a new right-wing faction aimed at attracting support from both religious and secular opponents of the Two-State Solution.

The New Right’s strongly opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state, favoring instead Israeli sovereignty over large swathes of Judea and Samaria, with expanded autonomy for large Arab population centers in the Palestinian Authority.

In line with Western-style conservative parties, the New Right backs market-based economic reforms and the curtailing of judicial activism by the Supreme Court – what Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has dubbed the “judicial revolution”.

On social issues, the party has called for the preservation of Jewish tradition “without coercion”, condemning efforts to promote either secularism or religious observance in the public sphere via legislation. The New Right also backs greater integration of the haredi community in the Israeli “economy, academia, public service, service in the IDF and civilian national service.”

Smotrich (left) and Rafi Peretz (right)
צילום: יונתן זינדל, פלאש 90

Union of Right-Wing Parties

Party Type: Joint list of three separate factions
Alignment: Right-Wing, National-Religious
Current number of MKs: 5 (3 Jewish Home, 2 National Union-Tekuma)
Chairman: Rabbi Rafael Peretz
Polling at: 5 – 7 seats

Formed on the eve of the elections for the 21st Knesset, the Union of Right-Wing Parties is a temporary alliance of three small rightist, socially conservative, national-religious factions: the Jewish Home, the National Union, and Otzma Yehudit.

A rebranded version of Israel’s National Religious Party (NRP), the Jewish Home – like its predecessor – has advertised itself as the political home for Israel’s Religious Zionist community, yet for decades has failed to win a majority of the national-religious vote.

While many Religious Zionist voters have backed the Likud, the Jewish Home has also faced competition from rival national-religious parties, such as the National Union. An amalgamation of smaller rightist factions, the National Union is led by the Tekuma faction, which broke away from the NRP and represents the Hardal, or so-called ‘haredi national religious’ sub-sector of the Religious Zionist movement.

The Jewish Home and National Union successfully ran together on joint tickets in 2006, 2013, and 2015. This year, however, the two parties brought in a third faction – the Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party – for a technical bloc, with plans to run together in the election, then split once they enter the Knesset. Otzma Yehudit, which is led by followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, has drawn controversy for its founders’ ties to the banned Kach party, which advocated the transfer of Arabs from Israel.

The joint ticket’s platform emphasizes its support for maintaining Israel’s Jewish character, the sanctity of the Sabbath in the public sphere, traditional family values, support for the Chief Rabbinate, the need to expand Israeli settlement in Judea and Samaria, and the party’s opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The three factions are led by Rabbi Rafael ‘Rafi’ Peretz (Jewish Home), MK Bezalel Smotrich (National Union-Tekuma), and former MK Michael Ben-Ari (Otzma Yehudit).

UTJ MKs Maklev (left), Gafni (center), Litzman (right)
Flash 90

United Torah Judaism

Party Type: Joint list of two separate factions
Alignment: Haredi-Orthodox
Current number of MKs: 6 (3 Agudat Yisrael, 3 Degel)
Chairman: Dep. Health Minister Yaakov Litzman
Polling at: 6 – 8 seats

Since 1992, the Knesset’s two Ashkenazi haredi factions, the Hasidic Agudat Yisrael party and the non-Hasidic Degel HaTorah, have run on the joint UTJ list in a long-lasting and relatively stable alliance.

The two factions differ little ideologically, with both backing socially conservative positions and supporting the Status Quo agreement on religion and state.

UTJ supports traditional family values and maintaining the current limitations on business and public transportation on the Sabbath, while opposing efforts by the Reform Movement to gain recognition by the Israeli government.

Protecting draft deferments for full-time yeshiva students and increasing state funding for yeshivas remain two of the core political issues for UTJ.

The two factions which make up the UTJ list adhere to the instructions of their spiritual leaders, which each faction receiving guidance from its own council of rabbis. In keeping with the party’s haredi character, no women are permitted to run on the UTJ’s Knesset list.

The party chairman is Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (Agudat Yisrael), a veteran lawmaker born in Germany but raised in New York City. The Degel HaTorah faction is led by Knesset Finance Committee chairman Moshe Gafni, who was first elected to the Knesset 31 years ago.

Aryeh Deri
Emil Salman/Flash 90

Shas

Party Type: Single faction list
Alignment: Haredi-Orthodox
Current number of MKs: 7
Chairman: Interior Minister Aryeh Deri
Polling at: 4 – 6 seats

Along with UTJ, Shas is one of the Knesset’s two haredi lists. Founded in 1984 by Rabbi Elazar Menachem Mann Shach and former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, was originally established as an alternative to the Hasidic Agudat Yisrael faction.

Shas quickly drew, however, broad support from across the Sephardic and Mizrachi (Eastern, non-Ashkenazi) communities in Israel, with large numbers of voters who do not identify as strictly Orthodox or haredi.

Nevertheless, Shas’ representatives in the Knesset all come from the haredi community, and like UTJ, the party is instructed by a council of rabbis who provide guidance to Shas’ MKs. Also like UTJ, Shas does not run any female candidates on its Knesset list.

Ideologically, there is a great deal of overlap between Shas and UTJ, with both parties opposing any state recognition of the Reform Movement, particularly with regards to conversion and recognition of Jewishness based on the Reform Movement’s standards. Both factions strongly support traditional family values, and oppose recognition of same-sex marriages, public transportation on the Sabbath, or the operation of businesses during the Sabbath.

Like UTJ, much of Shas’ political efforts have centered around protecting the system of open-ended draft deferments for yeshiva students and increasing state funding of yeshivas.

Shas also strongly backing the deportation of illegal immigrants residing in Israel.

The party is led by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who made history in 1988 when at the age of 29, he became the youngest minister in Israeli history. Deri headed Shas from 1992 to 1999, but in 2000 was convicted of bribery, and was imprisoned for 22 months. In 2013, Deri returned to the Knesset, and was later reappointed party chairman.

Tamar Zandberg
פלאש 90

Meretz

Party Type: Single faction list
Alignment: Left-Wing
Current number of MKs: 5
Chairwoman: Tamar Zandberg
Polling at: 5 – 8 seats

A self-declared leftist party, Meretz has long viewed itself as the standard-bearer of the Israeli Left and the peace camp.

Running under the full name of Meretz – The Israeli Left, the party is the product of the merger in 1992 of the old socialist Mapam party and the far-left Ratz faction.

Along with strong support for an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria and the establishment of a Palestinian state, Meretz also backs a slew of progressive-left positions, including increase social spending, legalization of marijuana, support for same-sex marriage and full rights for same-sex couples, a “social-democratic economic alternative” to the market-based economy, and “environmental justice”. Meretz’s economic policies include tax hikes on higher income earners, greater spending on public healthcare and education, and an increase in disabilities payments.

Meretz is led by MK Tamar Zandberg, a former college lecturer-turned left-wing activist.

Ayman Odeh
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Hadash – Ta’al

Party Type: Joint list of two separate factions
Alignment: Arab, Left-Wing
Current number of MKs: 5 (4 Hadash, 1 Ta’al)
Chairman: Ayman Odeh
Polling at: 6 – 9 seats

Two of the four major Israeli-Arab anti-Zionist political parties, Hadash and Ta’al, formed a joint ticket for the 2019 election, after the Joint List ticket of all four factions splintered in January 2019.

Hadash, the predominantly Arab Communist party, backs the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria and an Israeli withdrawal from the area; the redefinition of Israel from a Jewish state to a state of all its citizens; an end to Israel’s nuclear arsenal; more comprehensive environmental legislation and “environmental justice”; full recognition of all illegal Bedouin communities in southern Israel; the overturning of Israel’s Nationality Law and an end to the Law of Return for Jews; and recognizing Israeli Arabs as a protected minority group with a special status under Israeli law.

The party’s economic platform includes calls to reverse the trend towards privatization and a return to state control of much of the economy, increases in state payments to parents in the form of monthly child stipends; increasing the minimum wage; and state-funded ‘social housing’ as a solution to the housing crisis.

The other faction on the list, the Arab nationalist Ta’al movement, calls for the full withdrawal of Israel from all of Judea and Samaria; the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital; and end to Israel’s status as a Jewish state; and affirmative action for Israeli Arabs, in particular Israeli Arab women.

Hadash is led by MK Ayman Odeh, who led the Joint List in the 2015 elections. Prior to his entry into the Knesset in 2015, Odeh was a Haifa-based attorney and a member of the Haifa city council.

The Ta’al faction is led by its founder, Ahmed Tibi. A Hebrew University-trained gynecologist, Tibi once served as an advisor to PLO chief Yasser Arafat, before making his debut in Israeli politics, winning a seat in the Knesset in 1999.

Moshe Feiglin
Flash90

Zehut (Identity)

Party Type: Single faction list
Alignment: Libertarian, Right-Wing
Current number of MKs: 0
Chairman: Moshe Feiglin
Polling at: 4 – 6 seats

Founded by former Likud MK and Land of Israel activist Moshe Feiglin, Zehut combine a laissez-faire, libertarian political ideology with nationalist positions on issues of territory and foreign policy.

The unusual combination of support for decriminalization of marijuana and staunchly right-wing views regarding the future of Judea and Samaria have led some to dub Zehut the party of “legalization and annexation”.

Zehut has called for the full legalization of marijuana – both medicinal and recreational – and the application of Israeli sovereignty to Judea and Samaria, while offering Palestinian Arabs who declared loyalty to Israel legal residency status, much like the Arabs of eastern Jerusalem.

The party’s platform, which was written in large part by libertarian economist Gilad Alper (third on the Zehut Knesset slate), calls for massive reductions in taxes and regulations.

Zehut has also called for a school voucher system, allowing parents greater freedom to choose what school to send their children to.

Other policies on the Zehut platform include: legalizing civil marriages; privatizing Israeli hospitals and large swaths of the public health insurance system; ending state funding of political campaigns; an end to state coercion in matters of religion and state; land privatization; replacement of Israel’s progressive tax system with a flat tax; free trade and an end to protective tariffs; increased gun-ownership rights; and an end to US government aid to Israel.

Zehut Chairman Moshe Feiglin served in the Knesset with the Likud from 2013 to 2015. Prior to that, he was known as the leader of the Zo Artzenu (This Is Our Land) movement, which protested the Oslo Accords and establishment of the Palestinian Authority. In the mid-1990s, Feiglin founded the Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction of the Likud, with the aim of pushing the party to the right.

The four parties hovering around the electoral threshold

Aside from the ten parties who appear poised to enter the Knesset, four other parties have, according to the final pre-election polls, a realistic chance of clearing the threshold and entering the Knesset.

Mansour Abbas (r)
Hadas Parush/Flash90

United Arab List - Balad

Party Type: Joint list of two separate factions
Alignment: Arab
Current number of MKs: 8
Chairman: Mansour Abbas
Polling at: 0 – 5 seats (passes threshold in 9 of the last 12 polls)

The second major Arab ticket is a joint list of the United Arab List and the Balad party.

Like Hadash and Ta’al, both the UAL and Balad are anti-Zionist factions which support the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and the redefinition of Israel from a Jewish state to a state of all its citizens.

The UAL, however, is less of an ideological movement than the Communist Hadash party, and is more of a sectarian and Islamist party, representing Israel’s Bedouin community and the southern wing of the Islamic Movement. Like the haredi parties, UAL has never run a female candidate on its Knesset slate.

The second faction on the ticket, Balad, is by contrast a secular Arab nationalist movement. Balad advocates redefining Israel as a binational state or a state of all its citizens, and has pushed for the granting of special rights to the country’s Arab population.

UAL is led by Mansour Abbas, chairman of the joint ticket. Abbas is a senior member of the southern wing of the Islamic Movement. Balad is headed by Mtanes Shehadeh, a Christian Israeli Arab from Nazareth and a political scientist who served as a member of the Arab nationalist High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel.

Moshe Kahlon
Flash 90

Kulanu (All of Us)

Party Type: Single faction list
Alignment: Center to Center-Right
Current number of MKs: 10
Chairman: Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon
Polling at: 0 – 6 seats (passes threshold in 11 of the last 12 polls)

Founded by former Likud MK Moshe Kahlon, Kulanu ran in 2015 as a centrist party, netting 10 seats. The faction has tweaked its image in 2019, however, dubbing itself the “Sane Right” and positioning itself as a center-right faction in between the Likud and the Blue and White party.

Kulanu opposed efforts in the 20th Knesset to curtail the Supreme Court’s powers of judicial review, and pushed for softening the Nationality Law, including the removal of provisions which would permit small towns to screen residents to preserve the town’s demographic character.

The party has targeted its platform to the Israeli middle class, and made extensive use of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s image in its campaign material. Kulanu’s platform emphasizes the closing of socio-economic gaps, promises to increase the number of housing units substantially, increased access to public housing, and increased social spending.

Kulanu has staked out a more right-wing position on the future of Judea and Samaria, opposing the establishment of a Palestinian state and condemning the Palestinian Authority for “biting the hand that feeds it”. Kulanu also backs the deportation of illegal immigrants in Israel, and the rehabilitation of south Tel Aviv.

On social matters, however, Kulanu has adopted progressive-left positions on issues including surrogacy and adoption for same-sex couples, “advancing the transsexual community in Israel”, civil marriages, expanding the range of mixed-gender units in the IDF, and actively promoting women in the job market.

Kulanu is led by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who has served in the Knesset since 2003. Originally a member of the Likud, Kahlon held a variety of ministerial positions, including Minister of Communications and Minister of Environmental Protection, before breaking away to form Kulanu.

Avigdor Liberman
Hadas Parush/Flash90

Yisrael Beytenu (Israel Is Our Home)

Party Type: Single faction list
Alignment: Center-Right to Right-Wing
Current number of MKs: 5
Chairman: Avidgor Liberman
Polling at: 0 – 5 seats (passes threshold in 8 of the last 12 polls)

Originally established in 1999 as a sectorial party, appealing primarily to recent immigrants from Eastern Europe, Yisrael Beytenu evolved into a secular-right party, offering an alternative to the national-religious parties of the Right like the Jewish Home and National Union.

Yisrael Beytenu’s platform emphasizes security, with hawkish positions on defense and Israel’s response to terrorism.

The party has called for legislation to make it easier for courts to sentence terrorists convicted of murder to death, and sanctions on the Gaza Strip in response, including an end to money transfers from Qatar.

Yisrael Beytenu has endorsed land-swaps with the Palestinian Authority, with Israel annexing large settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria, while ceding large Arab populations near the Green Line to the PA.

During the previous Knesset term, Yisrael Beytenu opposed efforts by haredi lawmakers to maintain the open ended draft deferments for yeshiva students, and sought to impose some limitations on the deferment program to encourage haredi enlistment.

The party has also backed easing the state-run conversion process for immigrants, and reducing restrictions on public transportation and infrastructure work on the Sabbath.

Avidgor Liberman, who served as Defense Minister from 2016 to November 2018, is the founder and chief of Yisrael Beytenu. An immigrant from the Soviet Union, Liberman became a political activist within the Soviet émigré community before he joined the Likud. After serving as a senior official in Netanyahu’s first government, Liberman bolted from the Likud, and later formed Yisrael Beytenu.

Orly Levy Abekasis
צילום: Flash 90

Gesher (Bridge)

Party Type: Single faction list
Alignment: Center, Center-Left
Current number of MKs: 1
Chairwoman: Orly Levy
Polling at: 0 – 4 seats (passes threshold in 1 of the last 12 polls)

One of the new factions formed ahead of the 2019 election, Gesher was established by former Yisrael Beytenu MK Orly Levy, and shares the name of another faction established by Levy’s father, David Levy, in the 1990s after he broke away from the Likud.

The new Gesher party’s platform endorses final status talks with the Palestinian Authority, but calls for Israel to retain major settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria, and Palestinian recognition of Israel as national home of the Jewish people. The platform emphasizes that there is no “quick solution through an immediate deal”, calling instead for efforts to reduce tensions and lay the groundwork for a possible future peace agreement.

On socio-economic issues, Gesher seems to lean towards the left, calling for government intervention to reduce the ‘wage gap’ between men and women, as well as gaps between Israel’s Jewish and Arab populations, and equality of outcomes between demographic groups generally.

The party platform pushes for expanded social welfare spending, universal government-funded education for children ages 0 to 3, and the “rehabilitation” of Israel’s public housing programs.

MK Orly Levy is the founder and chairwoman of Gesher. Elected on the Yisrael Beytenu ticket in 2015, she bolted the party in 2016, objecting to its decision to join the Netanyahu government. She is a former model and TV host, and the daughter of ex-Foreign Minister David Levy.

The long-shots

Aside from the 14 parties which polls have shown have a realistic chance of crossing the electoral threshold and winning seats, there are 26 additional parties running for the 21st Knesset. They include:

Tzomet (Junction) - The defunct secular-right party of the 1980s and 1990s was revived by Likud MK Oren Hazan, after he failed to win a realistic spot on the Likud’s 2019 Knesset slate. The party has polled at or under 1% - far below the 3.25% electoral threshold required to enter the Knesset.

Magen (Shield) – Founded by Gal Hirsch, a veteran of the Second Lebanon War and former Brigadier General in the IDF who had been considered for chief of Israel police in 2015, the Magen party calls for “Israeli unity”, strengthening Israel’s law enforcement agencies, greater equality of outcome for minority groups in Israel, expanded support for IDF soldiers, and development of areas outside of central Israel including Judea and Samaria, the Golan, the Negev and Gaza border area, and the Galilee.

Betah - Social Security – The party of 44-year-old Ukrainian immigrant and social media star Semion Grafman, Betah promises to combat bureaucratic overreach and excessive regulations which Grafman say have made life difficult for small business owners. Grafman, a businessman himself, was convicted and imprisoned for one year in the US for tax fraud and money laundering. Aside from reducing business regulations, Betah vows to combat poverty in Israel.

The Bible Bloc – A joint Jewish-Christian party founded by an American-born Israeli settler living in Gush Etzion, the Bible Bloc warns of an imminent Islamic takeover of the United States and a coming global Jihad to exterminate all non-Muslims. Avi Lipkin, the Bible Bloc’s founder, has close ties with the Evangelical Christian community in the US. The party advocates for a global Judea-Christian alliance to combat radical Islam. The Bible Bloc also calls for ending “prejudice” against Messianic Jews in Israel. The party’s Knesset slate is divided equally between Jews and Christians, and includes a self-identifying Messianic Jew.

Na Nach – A party of Breslov Hasidim from the Na Nach Nachman Meuman movement, Na Nach was founded in 2013 with the goal of spreading the teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, and the founder of the Na Nach movement, Rabbi Yisrael Dov Ber Odesser.

Bnei HaBrith (Members of the Covenant) – A Christian-Arab party founded by Bishara Shilyan, an Arab Christian from Nazareth who has sought to preserve the city’s Christian identity in the face of a growing Muslim population. Bnei HaBrith advocates Arab integration into Israeli society, and Shilyan has promoted Arab service in the IDF. The party backs a two-state solution.

The Arab List – Led by former United Arab List MK Muhamad Kanan, The Arab List was established in 2015 in protest of the Joint List, after some Israeli Arab leaders claimed the united Arab ticket ignored the needs of large sectors of the Arab population.

Hope For Change – Another small Arab faction founded in 2015, Hope For Change, calls for greater integration of Israeli Arabs into greater Israeli society, and steps to improve the living conditions of the Bedouin community in southern Israel.

The Pirate Party – Part of the international ‘Pirate Party’ movement, the Israeli Pirate Party was founded in 2012, and ran in both the 2013 and 2015 elections, netting just 0.05% and 0.02% of the vote. With its official registered party name reading “The Pirates – Led by the Internet Voting Slip Diarrhea”, and candidates appearing in pirate costumes, the faction seems to take a light-hearted approach to the electoral process. The Pirates advocate open government and direct democracy, copyright and patent law reform, and “promotion of the pirate sector”.

Ahrayut L’Meyasdim (Responsibility to the Founders) – One of several party’s promoting the interests of retirees, Ahrayut L’Meyasdim is led by former Tzomet MK Haim Dayan. A second faction, the Senior Citizen’s Party also focuses on the concerns of Israeli pensioners.

Social Justice Party – A third faction placing special focus on the needs of the elderly, the Social Justice Party of Gad Haran also calls for increased disabilities benefits.

Kol Yisrael Achim (All of Israel Are Brothers) – Is a joint ticket combining the first Ethiopian-Israeli faction with Peula L’Yisrael, a party representing Sephardic and Mizrachi Jews who fled majority-Muslim countries after the establishment of the State of Israel. Peula L’Yisrael was established to secure compensation for Jewish refugees of Muslim countries for property they were forced to abandon. The ticket is led by Alali Adamso, an Ethiopian immigrant to Israel.

Justice For All – An environmental protection and animal rights party, the party’s full registered name is “Justice For All Because The Time Has Come For the Animal, The Human, and The Earth.”

Yashar – A party calling for direct democracy and the use of referendums, as well as the use of voting via cell phones by party members to determine their party’s position on key issues. The faction, which gained attention this election season for its campaign ads portraying Israeli leaders giving the middle finger, is led by Eran Etzion, a former Deputy National Security Advisor.

Eretz Yisrael Shelanu (Our Land of Israel) – A populist faction led by Rafael Levengrond, the bereaved father of Kim Levengrond-Yehezkel, who was murdered in a terrorist attack in Barkan. Levengrond vowed that if elected he would fight for “second class citizens”, who he claims are not represented by either the right or the left. “People mistakenly think this about left and right, that’s wrong. There isn’t one left or one right, there are 20 kinds of each,” Levengrond told Yediot Ahronot. “The left is represented by the rich, and the right is represented by the rich, and they treat citizens like a cow that is there to be milked.”

Brit Olam (Eternal Covenant) – Led by Israeli-American businessman and Global Peace Solution founder Ofer Lifschitz, Brit Olam is notable for running just a single candidate – its chairman, despite requiring nearly four seats’ worth of votes to enter the Knesset. The party, founded in 2005, aims to improve relations between Israeli Jews and Arabs, backs the two-state solution, and calls for increasing the minimum wage.

Green Economics (Da’am Workers’ Party) – A joint Arab-Jewish Marxist party which has called for a “Green New Deal”, establishment of a Palestinian state in all of Judea and Samaria, and nationalization of major industries. The party rebranded itself the “Calcala Yeruka” (Green Economics) faction for the 2019 elections, and is led by Yoav Gal Tamir from the WAC-Maan Worker’s Advice Center.

Education Party – The Education Party, founded by a group of educators and led by Adir Zeltser, calls for increased spending on public schools and a major reform of the Israeli public school system, including reducing the focus on standardized testing, and enabling teachers to greater freedom in the classroom.

Mehathala (From the Beginning) – A social justice, citizens’ rights party led by lobbyist David Erez. The party calls for electoral reform, with a direct system of voting to choose Knesset members, rather than voting for lists; reform of the public healthcare system; a requirement that police investigation every complaint filed by citizens; and criminal justice reform for youth courts.

Pashut Ahava (Simply Love) – Another joint Jewish-Arab party, Simply Love endorses multiculturalism, negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, government action to promote gender equality, and a reduction of income equality.

Zechuoitenu B’Kolenu (Our Rights With Our Vote/Voice) – A worker’s rights party, led by Gil Rotter, representing non-unionized workers.

Human Dignity – A liberal party led by Arkadi Fugitz which promotes free market capitalism while pushing for reductions in socio-economic gaps in Israel. The party looks to encourage mass immigration to Israel from Diaspora communities around the world.

Social Leadership – The latest party of perennial Knesset candidate Ilan Meshicha Yan-Zanbar, Social Leadership aims to combat what Yan-Zanbar dubbed the “corruption of the judicial system”. The party also promotes strengthening Jewish tradition, much like its predecessor, Moreshet Avot (Tradition of the Fathers).

Me and You – A populist, left-of-center social-democratic party led by Alon Giladi which declares itself the “Party of the Israeli People”. Me and You vows to upend what it calls the ‘big-money’ and ‘nationalist government’.

Shavim (Equal) – Founded by attorneys Mirit Entebi and Tali Gottlieb, Shavim’s mission statement emphasizes children’s rights, with a particular focus on special needs children and their families, along with disabled Israelis. “Shavim represents the disabled and their families; special-needs children, autistics, the mentally retarded, and the challenged.”




top