Understanding Israel’s Election Results

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, is set to return to Balfour Street with the support of an ascendant party of far-right Jewish supremacists, who for the first time are rising from the margins of politics to the corridors of power.

Read Explainer Here

Interactive Polls:

Based on the latest Ma'ariv polls.

Click a party name on the legend to remove it from the chart.

2022 Israel Elections Timeline | From the Latest Knesset Dissolution to Election Day

Knesset Dissolves
Election Day

Timeline photo credits: Gideon Sa’ar photo by Moshe Milner—source and license | Yoaz Hendel photo by U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv—source and license | Ofer Cassif photo by Amir Deeb—source and license | Aida Touma-Sliman photo by Zaher abu Elnaser—source and license | Avi Maoz photo by אלדד—source and license | Sami Abou Shahadeh photo by Amir Deeb—source and license | Yossi Brodny photo source and license | Zvi Hauser photo by David Azagury—source and license | Mtanes Shehadeh photo source and license | Idit Silman photo by Baruch Greenberg—source and license | Amichai Shikli photo by תומר בן אבי—source and license

Israeli Elections 2022: More About the Parties

Detailed descriptions of all major political parties and where they stand as Israel approaches its November 1 elections

Balad - בל״ד

Leader: Sami Abu Shehadeh
Seats in the outgoing Knesset: 1
Ideology: Anti-Zionism, Arab nationalism
Position on two states: Ambiguous
List for the 25th Knesset:
2. Mtanes Shehadeh
3. Do’a Khush Tatur
4. Walid Kaadan

Balad (full name: National Democratic Alliance – ברית לאומית דמוקרטית) is a secular Arab political party that is opposed to Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, seeking instead to transform it into a “state of all its citizens.” The party calls for ending the occupation and creating a Palestinian state, albeit with the full right of return for refugees and Israel itself ceasing to be Jewish. Founded prior to the 1996 elections, it has since developed a reputation as the most extreme of Israel’s Arab parties given its strong anti-Zionist rhetoric and its previous MKs’ apologism for Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Assad regime in Syria (although they are not alone in that respect, given that Hadash has also at times expressed support for Assad). 

From 2015, Balad ran as part of the Joint List, along with fellow Arab parties Hadash, Ta’al, and Ra’am (aside from April 2019, when the alliance split and it ran jointly with Ra’am). Ra’am broke off from the Joint List prior to the March 2021 elections (see below). In the current election period, mere moments before the deadline for parties to submit their list of candidates on September 15, Balad split with Hadash and Ta’al. The reason for the split is unconfirmed, although many suspect it was related to a disagreement over the allocation of seats on the Joint List ticket. This development is expected to bode well for Netanyahu: Balad is not projected to cross the 3.25% electoral threshold, weakening Arab representation in the Knesset and strengthening Likud and the pro-Netanyahu bloc. The fracturing of the Arab parties is also likely to discourage Arab turnout in the elections.

Hadash-Ta’al - חד״ש-תע״ל

Constituent factions: Hadash – חד״ש, Ta’al – תע״ל
Leader: Ayman Odeh (Head of Hadash)
Seats in the outgoing Knesset: 5
Ideologies: Non-Zionism, Israeli Arab communal interests, socialism (Hadash)
Position on two states: Supports
List for the 25th Knesset:
2. Ahmad Tibi (Head of Ta’al)
3. Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash)
4. Ofer Cassif (Hadash) 
5. Youssef Atauna (Hadash)
6. Samir bin Said (Ta’al)
7. Galb Saief (Hadash)

Hadash-Ta’al is an alliance of two predominantly Israeli Arab parties: Hadash (full name: The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality – החזית הדמוקרטית לשלום ולשוויון) and Ta’al (full name: Arab Movement for Renewal – תנועה ערבית להתחדשות). Hadash was founded through a merger of socialist and communist parties in 1977. It identifies as a joint Arab-Jewish party and currently has one Jewish representative in the Knesset, MK Ofer Cassif. Ta’al is a secular Arab nationalist party focused on promoting equality for Israel’s Arab citizens and a two-state outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was founded in the 1990s by Ahmad Tibi, who continues to lead the party today, and first entered the Knesset in 1999. 

Hadash and Ta’al previously ran alongside Ra’am and Balad on the Joint List, an alliance of Arab parties created in 2015 after the electoral threshold to enter the Knesset was raised to 3.25%. Hadash-Ta’al and Ra’am-Balad ran as separate lists in the April 2019 elections, after which the four parties reconstituted the Joint List alliance. In the March 2020 elections, the Joint List managed to garner 15 Knesset seats, the most for any Arab party in history, making it the third largest party in the Knesset. 

The alliance splintered since then, with Ra’am splitting from the alliance before the March 2021 elections. Whereas Ra’am made the historic decision to join the Bennett-Lapid coalition in June 2022, becoming the first independent Arab party in Israel’s history to do so, the Joint List remained in the opposition and loudly criticized the government as acting against the interests of the Arab community and perpetuating the occupation of the West Bank, as well as Israeli military policies toward Gaza.

Despite earlier threats from Balad that it might pursue an independent run in the upcoming elections, Hadash, Ta’al, and Balad were expected to run together as the Joint List once again. In a last-minute development before the deadline to submit party lists on September 15, Balad announced that it would run independently. Balad and Hadash-Ta’al each blame the other for the split, which was reportedly due to a disagreement over an agreement to rotate the sixth slot on their list. The split is expected to further weaken Arab representation in the Knesset. The high likelihood of Balad not garnering enough of the vote to make it into the Knesset would bolster the Netanyahu bloc’s chances of attaining a 61-seat majority. On the other hand, Hadash and Ta’al are considered to be less hardline than Balad and more likely to back a Lapid-led government, despite Ayman Odeh’s assurances that as of now he would not recommend Lapid or Gantz for prime minister and that Hadash-Ta’al does not belong to either political bloc.

Ra’am - רע״ם

Leader: Mansour Abbas
Seats in the outgoing Knesset: 4
Ideology: Israeli Arab communal interests, Islamism
Position on two states: Supports
List for the 25th Knesset:
2. Walid Taha
3. Walid Alhuashla
4. Iman Khatib-Yasin

Ra’am (full name: United Arab List – הרשימה הערבית המאוחדת) is an Arab Israeli party associated with the southern branch of the Islamic Movement. In June 2021, it became the first independent Arab party to join an Israeli governing coalition. Its traditional base of support lies in the Bedouin community in the Negev. Despite its religiously conservative and Islamist roots, Ra’am’s current messaging focuses on the importance of having a seat at the political table in order to reap tangible gains for Israeli Arabs in areas like fighting crime, improving infrastructure, and increasing government funding for the community. The party supports the two-state solution and establishing a Palestinian state, although it has deprioritized the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to focus on the needs of the Arab minority in Israel. 

Established in 1996, Ra’am became a part of the Joint List in 2015 along with Ta’al, Hadash, and Balad. On January 28, 2021, the party officially split from the Joint List, partially due to party chair Mansour Abbas’ willingness to engage with then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu, for his part, was courting Abbas as a potential political partner in advance of the March 2021 elections—breaking a long-held taboo against cooperating with Arab parties and inadvertently paving the way for Ra’am’s inclusion in the Bennett-Lapid coalition, which facilitated Netanyahu’s defeat. 

In the current elections, Abbas is seeking to portray his party’s decision to join the coalition as one that benefited the Arab community, and that despite the discomfort being an Islamist party sitting in a Zionist government, the experiment paid off. Although supportive of the outgoing government and functionally part of the center-left bloc, Ra’am has expressed willingness to sit with anyone in a coalition. Netanyahu has promised that Ra’am would not be a part of his government and has derided his rivals for sitting with “terror supporters.”

Meretz - מרצ

Leader: Zehava Galon
Seats in the outgoing Knesset: 4
Ideology: Liberal Zionism, social democracy, left-wing
Position on two states: Supports
List for the 25th Knesset:
2. Mossi Raz
3. Michal Rozin
4. Ali Salalha
5. Yair Golan
6. Gaby Lasky
7. Nitzan Horowitz (Health Minister, Former Head of Meretz)
8. Mazen Abu Siam
9. Oumima Hamad
10. Eid Badir

Founded in 1992 as a joint list of several left-wing parties, Meretz has since served as the left-most flank of the Jewish Israeli political landscape (aside from the nominally Arab-Jewish Hadash party, which runs as part of the Joint List). This past year was the first time since 2001 that the party has been part of a governing coalition. It is currently led by Zehava Galon, who won the leadership primary on August 24 against former IDF Deputy Chief of Staff and current Meretz MK Yair Golan. Galon previously led Meretz from 2012 to 2018, after which she took a break from politics. 

Meretz is a progressive, social-democratic party largely focused on social issues, such as equal rights for the Arab community, feminism, the separation of religion and state, and supporting the LGBTQ community. It also supports the two-state solution and is the Jewish party that does so most vocally. The party advocates for freezing settlements, closer dialogue with the Palestinians, and social democratic economic policies. The party has a small, yet loyal base of support that stereotypically consists of left-wing Tel Avivians. Aside from that core constituency, it has struggled to appeal to the mainstream Israeli electorate, which over the past two decades has moved away from left-wing parties, as evidenced by its contraction from 12 seats in 1992 to four in the outgoing Knesset. 

In this election, as in several recent races, there are concerns that Meretz might not garner the 3.25% of the vote necessary to make it into the Knesset—a result that would likely ensure a 61-seat majority for the Netanyahu bloc. Prime Minister Lapid called on Labor and Meretz to merge their parties in advance of the election to avoid this outcome, given that the two parties have very similar platforms and constituencies. Galon expressed willingness to accept this proposal, but Labor leader Merav Michaeli rejected it.

Labor - העבודה

Leader: Merav Michaeli (Transportation Minister)
Seats in the outgoing Knesset: 7
Ideology: Liberal Zionism, center-left
Position on two states: Supports
List for the 25th Knesset:
2. Naama Lazimi
3. Gilad Kariv
4. Efrat Rayten
5. Ram Shefa
6. Emilie Moatti
7. Yaya Fink
8. Ibtisam Mara’ana
9. Omer Bar-Lev (Public Security Minister)
10. Mehereta Baruch-Ron 

The Labor Party is the historic leader of the Israeli left, although it has witnessed uneven electoral results and a dramatic decline over the past two decades. Labor and its antecedents, which represented the socialist, secularist Zionist movement that founded the state, led every Israeli government until 1977. During the Oslo era, the party became closely associated with the peace process and the two-state solution under the leadership of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres. In the wake of the Second Intifada and the Gaza disengagement in the early 2000s, the party’s influence waned as the Israeli left struggled to win over Israeli voters with its pro-peace narrative and much of the party’s former base turned to centrist alternatives like Kadima (the party of Prime Ministers Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon, which Sharon established after breaking with Likud), Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, and Benny Gantz’s Blue and White.

In the months before the March 2021 elections, Merav Michaeli, Labor’s current chair, led the party to win seven Knesset seats, resurrecting it from an all-time low of three Knesset seats the year prior. Labor joined the Bennett-Lapid coalition in June 2021 and Michaeli became Israel’s Transportation Minister. In July 2022, she won reelection as chair in the party’s leadership primary, the first Labor leader to do so since Shimon Peres. The party’s general primaries in August elevated younger candidates like activist Naama Lazimi and Reform rabbi Gilad Kariv, while veteran figures like Ministers Omer Bar-Lev and Nachman Shai saw their standing weaken. Despite Michaeli’s efforts to reinvigorate her venerable party, the party is currently projected to secure fewer seats than what it currently has in the Knesset. With both Labor and Meretz polling close to the electoral threshold, many in the center-left bloc, including Prime Minister Lapid, called on the two parties to merge. Michaeli rejected the proposal, seeking to position herself and her party as a center-left movement that can appeal to the Israeli mainstream. 

Michaeli openly supports the two-state solution and equality for all citizens of Israel. Much of her campaign is focused on social issues, like promoting gender equality and combating domestic violence.

Yesh Atid - יש עתיד

Leader: Yair Lapid (Prime Minister, Foreign Minister)
Seats in the outgoing Knesset: 17
Ideology: Centrism, secularism, liberalism
Position on two states: Supports
List for the 25th Knesset: 
2. Orna Barbivai (Economy Minister)
3. Meir Cohen (Welfare Minister)
4. Karine Elharrar (Energy Minister)
5. Meirav Cohen (Social Equity Minister)
6. Yoel Razvozov (Tourism Minister)
7. Elazar Stern (Intelligence Minister)
8. Miki Levy
9. Meirav Ben Ari
10. Ram Ben Barak

The Yesh Atid party is the current ruling party of Israel, led by Prime Minister Yair Lapid. It is the second-largest party in the Knesset and the largest of the parties that made up the erstwhile Bennett-Lapid coalition, whose collapse in June 2022 prompted the elections. As the leader of the anti-Netanyahu bloc serving as interim prime minister, Lapid is running to maintain the premiership and complete the work of the outgoing government.

Yair Lapid founded the party in 2012, after which it proceeded to win 19 seats in the 2013 election, making it a prominent player in Israeli politics. After joining a Likud-led government, Lapid served as finance minister before subsequently falling out with Netanyahu. Lapid then served as a prominent figure in the opposition. Prior to the April 2019 elections, Yesh Atid merged with Benny Gantz’s new Hosen L’Yisrael (Israel Resilience) to form the Kachol Lavan (Blue and White) alliance. The alliance broke up after the March 2020 elections due to Gantz’s decision to join in a coalition with Netanyahu, a campaign promise that Lapid would not break.

In the wake of the previous elections in March 2021, Lapid was the architect behind the eclectic coalition that ended Netanyahu’s tenure as prime minister. Despite having won only 7 seats in the election, Naftali Bennett became prime minister upon the new government’s establishment in June 2022—his condition for joining the coalition—while Lapid assumed the roles of foreign minister and alternate prime minister. When the government fell, Lapid became interim prime minister as per the rotation agreement he signed with Bennett. 

Yesh Atid’s political agenda focuses on socio-economic issues and promoting good governance and rule of law. In Lapid’s initial campaign speech, he contrasted his centrist vision with the political extremes, underscoring his commitment to Israel as both Jewish and democratic. He also promised to tackle social issues, including civil marriage legislation and legal status for families of same-sex couples, and derided West Bank annexation as a threat to Israel’s future. 

While Yesh Atid’s main focus is not Israeli-Palestinian relations, Yair Lapid has endorsed separation from the Palestinians and described the two-state solution as “the only game in town” when it comes to resolving the conflict. In his speech at the U.N. General Assembly this year, Lapid affirmed his commitment to two states, stating that “An agreement with the Palestinians, based on two states for two peoples, is the right thing for Israel’s security, for Israel’s economy and for the future of our children.” This was Lapid’s first time expressing his commitment to two states as prime minister, and the first time an Israeli prime minister has done so for many years.

National Unity Party - המחנה הממלכתי

Leader: Benny Gantz (Defense Minister, Head of New Hope)
Constituent Factions: Blue and White – כחול לבן, New Hope – תקווה חדשה
Seats in the outgoing Knesset: 14
Ideology: Centrism/center-right, statesmanship 
Position on two states: Ambiguous
List for the 25th Knesset:
2. Gideon Sa’ar (Justice Minister; Head of New Hope)
3. Gadi Eisenkot
4. Pnina Tamano-Shata (Aliya and Absorption Minister, Blue and White)
5. Yifat Shasha Biton (Education Minister, New Hope)
6. Chili Tropper (Culture and Sports Minister, Blue and White)
7. Ze’ev Elkin (Housing Minister, Jerusalem Affairs Minister, New Hope)
8. Michael Biton (Minister in the Defense Ministry, Blue and White)
9. Matan Kahana 
10. Orit Farkash-Hacohen (Science, Technology, and Space Minister, Blue and White)

The National Unity Party (literal translation: “the Stately Camp”) is a center-right alliance of Benny Gantz’s Blue and White and Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope parties. Its other prominent figure is former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot. Both Sa’ar and Gantz are key figures from the outgoing coalition. This political alliance is built around forming a government that does not include Netanyahu’s Likud party or the far-right, who threaten Israel’s democratic institutions and rule of law. That being said, the party includes figures from various ideological backgrounds who have conflicting views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Eisenkot has warned against the dangers of a binational state and annexation, Gantz supports separation but has gone back and forth on annexation proposals, and Sa’ar is firmly opposed to a Palestinian state. The party also includes members of the national religious community, such as former Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana. National Unity is selling itself as the alternative for centrist, moderate, and soft-right voters who are opposed to Netanyahu. In doing so, it is also seeking to rival Yair Lapid for leadership of the anti-Netanyahu bloc, with Gantz positioning himself as a candidate for prime minister.

Gantz’s Blue and White party is a centrist faction that ran independently in the last elections in March 2021, garnering 8 seats. In the previous three rounds, it ran jointly with Yesh Atid, posing the greatest electoral challenge to Likud in years. The alliance split following the March 2020 elections, when Gantz opted to join a Netanyahu-led government to provide Israel with a government to address the COVID crisis, betraying a promise to his voters that he would not sit with Netanyahu. Lapid and his faction remained in the opposition. Netanyahu brought about that coalition’s collapse in December 2020 in order to avoid honoring a prime ministerial rotation agreement with Gantz.

A former Likudnik who had previously served as education and interior minister, Gideon Sa’ar left his former political home to found the New Hope (Tikva Hadasha) Party in December 2020 with the aim of challenging Benjamin Netanyahu for the premiership. The party is largely made up of other former Likudniks opposed to Netanyahu. Sa’ar had previously challenged Netanyahu for leadership in Likud’s most recent leadership primary in 2019, in which he garnered a mere 27.5% of the vote to Netanyahu’s 72.5%.

Yisrael Beitenu - ישראל ביתנו

Leader: Avigdor Lieberman (Finance Minister)
Seats in the outgoing Knesset: 7
Ideology: Nationalism, secularism, center-right
Position on two states: Supports
List for the 25th Knesset:
2. Oded Forer (Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Periphery Minister)
3. Evgeny Sova
4. Sharon Nir
5. Yulia Malinovsky 
6. Hamad Amar (Minister in the Finance Ministry) 
7. Alex Kushnir
8. Batya Kahana Dror
9. Yossi Shain
10. Limor Magen Telem

Yisrael Beitenu is a secularist, center-right party that has historically represented Russian-speaking Israelis and Jews who made aliyah from the former Soviet Union. Avigdor Lieberman founded Yisrael Beitenu in 1999 and the party has since enjoyed a semi-consistent base of support among Russian-speaking Israelis, although the party has sought to branch out beyond this narrow constituency. Lieberman currently serves as finance minister and is a key figure in the outgoing government.

Like Likud, the party’s platform embraces the Revisionist school of Zionism associated with Ze’ev Jabotinsky. Lieberman is known for his hawkish views on security and for promoting separation between religion and state. The party officially supports a two-state solution based on the so-called Lieberman Plan, under which Israel would transfer some Arab Israeli municipalities to a Palestinian state, in order to bolster both states’ demographic homogeneity.  This plan has been opposed by many center-left and Israeli Arab leaders because it would result in many Arab Israelis losing their Israeli citizenship, something the majority of the community opposes. The party’s platform also calls for amending the Nation-State Law to underscore equal rights for all citizens, reflecting Israel’s Declaration of Independence. 

Lieberman is known for his opposition to the influence of religious authorities in the government and his staunch opposition to Benjamin Netanyahu, his former political ally. After serving as minister of defense in the Netanyahu-led government, Lieberman withdrew Yisrael Beitenu from the coalition, triggering the April 2019 elections, and he has since refused to sit with the Haredi parties or Netanyahu. Despite his previous reputation as a far-right nationalist, Lieberman has since championed the Bennett-Lapid government and political cooperation with Ra’am. Today, Yisrael Beiteinu sits firmly within the anti-Netanyahu bloc. Liberman supports legislation to impose term limits for the premiership and to prevent someone under indictment for corruption from serving as prime minister. He has also called for requiring a 90-vote supermajority to topple a government in its first two years, in order to promote political stability.

Shas - ש״ס

Leader: Aryeh Deri
Seats in the outgoing Knesset: 9
Ideology: Haredi Judaism, social conservatism
Position on two states: Ambiguous
List for the 25th Knesset:
2. Yaakov Mergi
3. Yoav Ben Tzur
4. Michael Michaeli
5. Haim Biton
6. Moshe Arbel
7. Yinon Azulai
8. Moshe Abutbul 
9. Uriel Buso
10. Yosef Tayeb 

Shas (full name: Sephardic Guardians – שומרי ספרד) is one of the two Haredi parties in the Knesset. Founded by former Chief Sephardi Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in 1984, the party sought to advocate for religious Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews who did not enjoy the same representation as Ashkenazim within the Haredi political establishment. Shas’ leader is Aryeh Deri, who resigned from the Knesset in early 2022 as part of a plea bargain over tax offenses. In the upcoming elections, Deri is once again running to lead the party in the Knesset. 

Shas has a solid base of support among the Sephardi and Mizrahi Haredi community, as well as a contingency of non-Haredi Mizrahim. It supports eroding the boundary between religious authority and the secular Israeli state and is staunchly socially conservative. While it has historically been open to territorial concessions to the Palestinians, it generally leans right on non-religious issues and has also positioned itself as more hawkish on the conflict, given the party’s close alignment with the Likud. Shas does not take an official position on the conflict.

Like its Ashkenazi counterpart, United Torah Judaism, Shas has historically functioned as a kingmaker in Israeli politics by agreeing to sit in a government with whoever will fulfill the narrow interests of its constituency, such as exemption from military service and generous government subsidies for those who choose to study Torah rather than work. In recent years, however, these two parties have closely aligned themselves with Netanyahu and claim complete loyalty to his political bloc. In several recent campaigns, Shas leader Aryeh Deri even went as far as to appear next to Netanyahu—the leader of another party—on Shas billboards, in order to highlight the party’s close relationship with the then-prime minister.

United Torah Judaism - יהדות התורה

Leader: Yitzhak Goldknopf (Head of Agudat Yisrael)
Constituent factions: Agudat Yisrael – אגודת ישראל, Degel HaTorah – דגל התורה
Seats in the outgoing Knesset: 7
Ideology: Haredi Judaism, social conservatism
Position on two states: Ambiguous
List for the 25th Knesset:
2. Moshe Gafni (Head of Degel HaTorah)
3. Meir Porush (Agudat Yisrael)
4. Uri Maklev (Degel HaTorah)
5. Yaakov Tesler (Agudat Yisrael)
6. Yaakov Asher (Degel HaTorah)
7. Yisrael Eichler (Agudat Yisrael)
8. Yitzhak Pindrus (Degel HaTorah)
9. Moshe Rut (Agudat Yisrael)
10. Eliyahu Baruchi (Degel HaTorah) 

United Torah Judaism is a joint list of two Ashkenazi Haredi parties: the Hasidic Agudat Yisrael, led by Yitzchak Goldknopf, and the Lithuanian (non-Hasidic) Degel HaTorah, led by Moshe Gafni. Gafni currently leads the party in the Knesset, a role he began prior to the March 2021 elections. Goldknopf inherited leadership of Agudat Yisrael from longtime UTJ leader Yaakov Litzman, who resigned from the Knesset in June in a plea deal over his protection of Malka Leifer, a Jewish Australian former principal accused of sexually abusing children. Earlier in the 2022 election campaign, there was speculation that the two factions would run separately due to the decision of the Belz Hasidic sect (represented by Agudat Yisrael) to implement more of Israel’s core curriculum into their schools in order to increase their government funding, a move that Degel HaTorah saw as a threat to their schools’ funding. Moshe Gafni was also refusing to allow Yitzhak Goldknopf to assume leadership of the party. In exchange for the two factions agreeing to maintain their unified list, Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu promised funding for all Haredi schools regardless of whether they implement the core curriculum should he return to the premiership. The deal also stipulated that Goldknopf will indeed head the party’s list in the elections.

UTJ advocates for many of the same positions as Shas, its Sephardi counterpart, including an erosion of the boundary between religion and state and basing Israeli law on Halacha and general social conservatism. It is a non-Zionist party and does not take a position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It has previously been open to territorial concessions to the Palestinians. Like Shas, UTJ played a kingmaker role by agreeing to sit in a government with whoever will maintain the status quo of generous government subsidies and exemption from military service for Haredim. Currently, both parties are closely aligned with Netanyahu and they have promised not to sit in a government without him. Whether they honor their promise if Netanyahu’s bloc once again fails to reach 61 seats remains an open question. 

Likud - הליכוד

Leader: Benjamin Netanyahu
Seats in the outgoing Knesset: 29
Ideology: Right-wing, nationalism
Position on two states: Opposes
List for the 25th Knesset:
2. Yariv Levin
3. Eli Cohen
4. Yoav Gallant
5. Dudi Amsalem
6. Amir Ohana 
7. Yoav Kish
8. Nir Barkat
9. Miri Regev
10. Miki Zohar

The largest party in the Knesset, the Likud, is led by Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently the head of the opposition. Netanyahu served as prime minister from 1996 to 1999 and again from 2009 to 2021. The party was founded in 1973 in a merger of right-wing parties under the leadership of Menachem Begin, who formerly led the Revisionist Zionist Herut party and subsequently rose to the premiership in 1977, becoming Israel’s first right-wing prime minister and the first not to come from the Labor Party or one of its antecedents. Other previous Likud prime ministers include Yitzhak Shamir and Ariel Sharon.

The series of elections begun in April 2019 are widely viewed as a referendum on Netanyahu as an individual leader, and in an era when the political right is ascendant, Likud’s loyalty to its leader as he faces corruption charges is perhaps its defining characteristic. The candidates who placed highest on the party’s list in its recent primary elections are committed Netanyahu supporters who would—should the party return to power—back efforts to weaken the justice system to extricate Netanyahu from his indictment. However, this will prove a challenge for the party in the elections, given the need to attract “soft-right” voters who are less than enamored with the Netanyahu cult of personality.

Inspired by the Revisionist Zionism movement associated with Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Likud generally opposes territorial concessions to the Palestinians. Despite Netanyahu previously paying lip service to the notion of a Palestinian state after 2009, Likud’s Central Committee endorsed West Bank annexation in 2017. More recently, Netanyahu has endorsed unilateral annexation of Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley. He also expressed his support for the Trump administration’s Peace to Prosperity plan, which nominally called for a two-state solution but in practice envisioned Israeli annexation of all settlements and permanent Israeli security control over a functionally non-independent Palestinian entity. Although this stated policy was suspended in August 2020 as a concession for establishing diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates, Netanyahu’s government continued to promote settlement activity that has furthered de facto or creeping annexation. Likud’s political philosophy is also characterized by economic liberalism that historically set it apart from its socialist rival, Labor, although these distinctions have become less important since privatization in the 1980s. 

Jewish Home - הבית היהודי

Leader: Ayelet Shaked (Interior Minister)
Constituent Factions: Yamina – ימינה, Jewish Home – בית יהודי
Seats in the outgoing Knesset: 7 (all of which belong to Yamina, although most of Yamina’s current MKs are not running with the party again)
Ideology: Right-wing, religious Zionism
Position on two states: Opposes
List for the 25th Knesset:
2. Yossi Brodny (Head of Jewish Home prior to merger)
3. Amitai Porat (Yamina)
4. Nitzana Darshan-Leitner (Jewish Home)
5. Yomtob Kalfon (Yamina)
6. Orna Starkman (Yamina)

The Jewish Home is a right-wing, religious Zionist party and the successor of the National Religious Party, the classical party representing the religious Zionist community. Formed in 2008 through the merger of several right-wing parties, the party was for years led by Naftali Bennett, with his political partner Ayelet Shaked as a prominent figure in the party. After Shaked and Bennett left the party prior to the April 2019 elections, Rafi Peretz assumed the role of party leader in the subsequent three elections on a joint list with other right-wing parties. The party did not contest the March 2021 elections.

At the start of the 2022 election campaign, Ayelet Shaked, who by then was the leader of Yamina following Bennett’s resignation from politics, announced that she was forming the Zionist Spirit party with the Derekh Eretz faction led by Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel. Days before the September 15 deadline to submit party lists, the faction split due to a disagreement between Shaked and Hendel over whether the party would be willing to join a Netanyahu-led coalition. While Hendel ultimately remained firm in his opposition to doing so, Shaked saw it as preferable to another election. The party had failed to gain traction and was not expected to cross the electoral threshold.

Shaked then announced that she was returning to the Jewish Home party, now led by Yossi Brodny, and would assume leadership of the party in the elections. In her messaging, Shaked has emphasized that she will likely recommend Netanyahu for the premiership, and her return to the Jewish Home is seen as an effort to rebuild her right-wing, pro-Netanyahu base that largely abandoned her when she and Bennett joined a government with Lapid and the center-left. The Jewish Home is considered unlikely to make it into the Knesset, with it consistently polling well below the threshold.

Shaked and Bennett’s Yamina was a party that stood to the right of Likud on the political spectrum, largely but not exclusively associated with religious Zionists and West Bank settlers. Despite only having seven Knesset seats, Bennett served as prime minister until the coalition’s collapse in June 2021 as a condition for enabling the government’s creation. Bennett’s choice to join with the center-left and left-wing parties, as well as the Islamist Ra’am, alienated his right-wing, pro-settler base. He also failed to maintain the loyalty of his fellow Yamina MKs, whose defections to the Netanyahu-led opposition facilitated the coalition’s downfall. Bennett has since retired from politics, leaving the leadership of his party to Shaked. Out of all of Yamina’s current MKs, only one, Yomtob Kalfon, is slated to run on the Jewish Home list. 

Religious Zionism - הציונות הדתית

Leader: Bezalel Smotrich
Constituent Factions: Religious Zionism – הציונות הדתית, Otzma Yehudit – עוצמה יהודית, Noam – נעם
Seats in the outgoing Knesset: 6
Ideology: Far-right, Religious Zionism, ultranationalism, conservatism, Kahanism
Position on two states: Opposes
List for the 25th Knesset:
2. Itamar Ben-Gvir (Head of Otzma Yehudit)
3. Ofir Sofer (Religious Zionism)
4. Orit Strock (Religious Zionism)
5. Yitzhak Waserlauf (Otzma Yehudit) 
6. Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionism)
7. Almog Cohen (Otzma Yehudit)
8. Michal Waldiger (Religious Zionism)
9. Amichai Eliyahu (Otzma Yehudit)
10. Tzvika Fogel (Otzma Yehudit)

Religious Zionism is a union of three far-right parties: Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism (formerly known as National Union), Itamar Ben-Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power), and Avi Maoz’s Noam. A key political ally and potential coalition partner of Netanyahu’s Likud, Religious Zionism’s base lies in the national religious and ideological settler communities. National Union ran previously as a part of Naftali Bennett’s Yamina, whereas Otzma Yehudit only made it into the Knesset last year when Smotrich and Ben Gvir first merged their parties at Netanyahu’s behest. These parties, which call for turning Israel into a “Halachic” state (a state governed by Jewish religious law) and support racist, discriminatory policies against Arab citizens, united under the Religious Zionism umbrella in early February 2021. Smotrich has referred to himself as a “proud homophobe” and has stated that he believes Israel should be governed “as in the days of King David.”  

Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit is the ideological successor of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach Party, a racist, Jewish supremacist party which endorsed revoking Israeli citizenship of non-Jews and supported acts of terror against Palestinians. Ben Gvir rose to prominence as a young disciple of Kahane. Representing a marginal, extremist segment of Israeli society, the Kach Party was ultimately banned by Israel’s Central Elections Committee and is viewed by both Israel and the U.S. as a terrorist organization. Otzma Yehudit, however, is poised to be a key supporting player in the government should the pro-Netanyahu bloc emerge victorious, with Ben Gvir likely set to receive a key ministry. Whereas Ben Gvir was the only Otzma Yehudit MK in the outgoing Knesset, the party has seen a surge in popularity and, along with the rest of the Religious Zionism alliance, is set to grow significantly, increasing its power in the next Knesset. 

Avi Maoz’s anti-LGBTQ Noam party was part of the alliance in the previous Knesset and is once again running as part of Religious Zionism, with Maoz holding the 11th slot on the Religious Zionism list. 

Related Podcast Episodes: