Zehut

Zehut

Zehut
Leader: Moshe Feiglin
Current Seats: 0
Government/Opposition in Last Knesset: N/A (not in last Knesset)
Supports/Opposes Two-State Solution: Opposes

Zehut is a radical right political party founded in 2015 by Moshe Feiglin. It is known for its extremist positions on the Palestinians and for its support of marijuana legalization.

Zehut supports marijuana legalization, compelling Palestinians to leave the West Bank, and annulling the Oslo Accords.

Feiglin, a former Likudnik sidelined by Benjamin Netanyahu, failed to bring Zehut over the electoral threshold in the 2015 elections. However, most polls now project his party will make it into the next Knesset.

Zehut’s platform on the Palestinian conflict involves the annulment of the Oslo Accords and the reestablishment of direct Israeli military rule across all of the West Bank. Zehut also pushes for the removal of the Palestinian population by way of “incentivized transfer,” a sanitized term for the ethnic cleansing of the territory that suggests the local Arab population could be paid to leave. Those Palestinians who remain will be made permanent residents, not citizens, upon declaring allegiance to Israel. Under Zehut’s one state scenario, government buildings would be relocated from West Jerusalem to within the Old City and a synagogue would be built on the Temple Mount, presently home to the Dome of the Rock and al Aqsa Mosque.

Zehut opposes American military aid to Israel, making the case that such assistance makes Israel subordinate to U.S. foreign policy.

Moshe Feiglin, a former Likudnik, heads Zehut.

The marijuana legalization factor, part of the list’s broader libertarian agenda, cannot be ignored in Zehut’s sudden rise above the electoral threshold. Many voters who previously supported the Green Leaf party (a pro-legalization faction that never passed the threshold) could end up backing Zehut. In response to Zehut’s ascendance in the polls, other politicians including Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud), Ayelet Shaked (Hayamin Hehadash), and Avi Gabbay (Labor) have begun laying out policies on marijuana legalization to capitalize on the issue.


Kachol Lavan

Kachol Lavan

Leader: Benny Gantz
Current Seats: N/A (new party)
Government/Opposition in Last Knesset: N/A (new party)
Supports/Opposes Two-State Solution: Supports

Kachol Lavan is a new party built from a merger between two centrist parties, Benny Gantz’s Hosen Leyisrael and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid. Gantz retains the number one slot on the list, while he and Lapid share a rotation agreement in which the Yesh Atid leader will take over the premiership after two-and-a-half years if Kachol Lavan is selected to lead a government after elections.

Kachol Lavan brings together three former IDF chiefs of staff: Benny Gantz, Moshe Ya'alon, and Gabi Ashkenazi.

While broadly centrist, Kachol Lavan’s political ideology is hard to place, especially as concerns the Palestinian question. Yair Lapid and Gabi Ashkenazi (former IDF chief of staff and number four on Kachol Lavan’s list) have both spoken in favor of a two-state solution as a means to preserve Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Benny Gantz has elaborated on plans for peace with the Palestinians that would include some form of territorial concessions, while annexing certain settlements and retaining the Jordan Valley as a security border for Israel. His statements are compatible with both one and two-state proposals, and he has not come down explicitly for either. Moshe Ya’alon (number three on the list and another former IDF chief of staff) is publicly opposed to the two-state solution, a stance he reaffirmed after joining forces with Benny Gantz in January. The list includes other prominent right-wingers, including former Likud Media Adviser Zvi Hauser. Gantz and Lapid have been careful to avoid left-wing associations, including by rejecting a joint list with Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah.

Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid consented to a rotation agreement. If Kachol Lavan is selected to lead the government, Gantz will serve as prime minister for two-and-a-half years, with Lapid taking over afterwards.

Kachol Lavan has the potential to outperform Netanyahu’s Likud, providing the sitting prime minister with a serious electoral challenge. In particular, the inclusion of Gabi Ashkenazi, a Mizrahi former IDF chief of staff, has the potential to draw votes away from Likud and other right-wing parties.


Hosen Leyisrael

Hosen Leyisrael

Hosen Leyisrael
Leader: Benny Gantz
Current Seats: 0 (new party)
Supports/Opposes Two-State Solution: Unclear

Former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz launched Hosen Leyisrael for the 2019 elections following months of discussion about the ex-general’s political ambitions.

Benny Gantz has refrained from taking explicit positions on many issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The party has not released a platform, but Gantz did lay out his program in a January speech. During his address, he spoke in favor of religious pluralism, including public transit on the sabbath for municipalities that elect to have it, better relations with minorities, a robust security stance, and peace.

Gantz’s exact vision of peace remains unclear. In his speech, he praised the Wye River Memorandum and Hebron agreement, as well as Netanyahu’s Bar-Ilan speech (conditional endorsement of a two-state solution). In the absence of an agreement with the Palestinians, Gantz said that he would strengthen settlement blocs and maintain the Jordan Valley (the eastern edge of the West Bank) as Israel’s security border. Former IDF Chief of Staff and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, whose Telem bloc joined Hosen Leyisrael in late January, is a known opponent of two states, a position he reaffirmed after Gantz’s speech. How Yaalon’s positions figure in to Hosen Leyisrael’s program remains to be seen.

Hosen Leyisrael leader Benny Gantz is a career military officer who was IDF chief of staff from 2011-15, serving during the 2012 and 2014 Gaza wars.


Gesher

Gesher

Leader: Orly Levy-Abekasis
Current Seats: 1 (new party)
Supports/Opposes Two-State Solution: Unclear

MK Orly Levy-Abekasis split from Yisrael Beiteinu in 2018, announcing that she would run her own party focused on socio-economic issues.

As a party focused on socio-economic issues, Gesher's platform on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unclear.

Levy-Abekasis has not elaborated on her own position regarding two states. She has described Likud as too right-wing for her. Yisrael Beiteinu’s official platform is the Liberman Plan, calling for two states with the annexation of settlements and the cession of Arab Israeli communities to an independent Palestine. With Levy-Abekasis’s break from Yisrael Beiteinu, her current position on this program is unclear.

MK Orly Levy-Abekasis split from Yisrael Beiteinu to form Gesher.


Hadash-Ta'al

Hadash-Ta'al

Leader: Ayman Odeh
Current Seats: 6
Government/Opposition in Last Knesset: Opposition
Supports/Opposes Two-State Solution: Supports

Two predominantly Palestinian factions, Ta’al and Hadash, are running a joint list. Hadash, led by Ayman Odeh, is a union of the Israeli Communist Party with other leftist and Arab groups. Ta’al is a Palestinian-Israeli special interest faction led by Ahmad Tibi. 

Ta'al, which is running alongside Hadash, would support a center-left minority government from the opposition benches.

Tibi, who was an adviser to the P.L.O. on Arab Israeli citizens, aims to support a center-left minority government. This means that he would recommend a center-left Zionist candidate to be prime minister and vote with the government on some matters, but would not join the coalition. Tibi’s primary aim in this regard is to unseat Netanyahu as prime minister. A similar minority government model allowed the government of Yitzhak Rabin to push forward the Oslo peace process with support from opposition Arab MKs.

Ta’al split from the mostly-Palestinian Joint List, led by Hadash’s Ayman Odeh, at the start of the 2019 campaign season. While Ahmad Tibi’s faction was small within the Joint List, he commands significant popularity among Palestinian citizens of Israel, and was initially projected outperform the Joint List headed up by Ayman Odeh. The Joint List had been plagued by disagreements among its constituent factions, especially the more radical nationalist Balad and Islamist United Arab List blocs. On February 21, 2019, amid attempts to preserve the Joint List, Tibi and Odeh agreed to join forces. Their unified list will be led by Odeh, with Tibi taking the second position.

Hadash leader MK Ayman Odeh will head up a joint list between his party and Ahmad Tibi’s Ta’al.

Ayman Odeh and Hadash support a two-state solution based on Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Tibi also claims to support a two-state solution, but alleges that it may be impossible because of the policies of Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump. Tibi is against West Bank settlements and military action and Gaza, citing these as reasons for not joining a government. However, he opposes the permanent opposition status of other Palestinian-Israeli factions. 


Hayamin Hehadash

Hayamin Hehadash

Leader: Naftali Bennett
Current Seats: 3 (new party)
Government/Opposition in Last Knesset: N/A (new party — members served in government under Habayit Hayehudi)
Supports/Opposes Two-State Solution: Opposes

Hayamin Hehadash is a new right-wing party (aptly named) launched by erstwhile Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett. While 2019 will be the first lection in which Hayamin Hehadash runs, three incumbent MKs are currently affiliated with the faction — Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked, and Shuli Mualem, all formerly of Habayit Hayehudi.

Hayamin Hehadash's roster includes dedicated supporters of West Bank annexation, including Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked, and Caroline Glick.

Naftali Bennett pioneered the Bennett Plan/Stability Plan, which calls for annexation of Area C (60 percent) of the West Bank and the establishment of an autonomous Palestinian regime on the remaining 40 percent of the territory. Bennett has recruited far-right pundit Caroline Glick to run on Hayamin Hehadash’s list. Glick, like Bennett, alleges there are fewer Palestinians living in the West Bank than is generally accepted, using their claims as a pretext for annexation.

Before founding Hayamin Hehadash, Naftali Bennett became an influential player in right-wing Israeli politics as head of Habayit Hayehudi.

The separation of Hayamin Hehadash from Habayit Hayehudi can bee seen as an attempt by Bennett and Shaked to break from the influence of Tekuma’s rabbinic leadership. While Hayamin Hehadash is almost guaranteed to sit in government with Netanyahu’s Likud, Bennett and Shaked are widely seen as having aspirations of holding the premiership after Netanyahu leaves office.


Habayit Hayehudi

Habayit Hayehudi

Leader: Rafi Peretz
Current Seats: 5
Government/Opposition in Last Knesset: Government
Supports/Opposes Two-State Solution: Opposes

Habayit Hayehudi is a right-wing national-religious party. The party was originally formed in 2008 as a union of the National-Religious Party, Moledet, and Tkuma. The party began achieving broader success in 2012, under the leadership of Naftali Bennett, a modern Orthodox businessman. Bennett split from the party in late 2018, launching Hayamin Hehadash.

Three MKs, including Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, left Habayit Hayehudi to form Hayemin Hehadash.

When Bennett led the party, he pushed a program known as the Bennett Plan or the Stability Plan, which calls for the annexation of Area C (60 percent) of the West Bank and the establishment of an autonomous Palestinian regime in the remaining 40 percent of the territory. MK Bezalel Smotrich, who leads Tekuma sought the leadership of the rump Habayit Hayehudi, has espoused more extreme views than Bennett, including explicit support for segregation and the removal of Palestinian traffic from West Bank roads. Bayit Yehudi will also run on a joint list with Otzma Yehudit, a Kahanist faction that advocates the expulsion of Palestinians from Israel and the West Bank, at the insistence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The party ultimately elected Rabbi Rafi Peretz, a former IDF chief rabbi, as its leader in an attempt to retains some of its mainstream clout, though its reputation will likely be muddied by association with Otzma and Tkuma.

Former IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz was elected to lead Bayit Yehudi after Naftali Bennett’s departure.

Habayit Hayehudi was a major coalition partner for Benjamin Netanyahu in his last two governments, with Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked holding major ministerial portfolios. However, the departure of Bennett and Shaked (herself a secular Israeli Jew), along with the renegotiation of Tkuma’s role in the party and the joint list with Otzma Yehudit, will likely diminish much of Habayit Hayehudi’s appeal outside a hardcore settler constituency.


Yisrael Beiteinu

Yisrael Beiteinu

Leader: Avigdor Liberman
Current Seats: 5
Government/Opposition in Last Knesset: Both (opposition 3/2015-5/2016, 11/2018-present, government 5/2016-11/2018)
Supports/Opposes Two-State Solution: Supports

Yisrael Beiteinu is a right-wing political party established in 1999 by Avigdor Liberman. Soviet-born Liberman launched the party as a special interests faction to represent the concern of Israel’s million-plus Russian-speaking immigrant community. Today, however, the party seeks a more national orientation, aiming to recruit supporters from outside the Russian Israeli community.

Yisrael Beiteinu was founded as a Russian speakers special interest party and was once the second-largest right-wing faction in the Knesset. Today, it is unclear whether it can pass the electoral threshold.

Avigdor Liberman lives in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim. However, Yisrael Beiteinu officially supports a version of the two-state solution colloquially known as the Liberman Plan. Under the Liberman Plan, large settlements would be annexed to Israel, but predominantly Arab parts of Israel, such as the Triangle in northern Israel, would be ceded a future Palestinian state. This program is strongly opposed by Palestinian citizens of Israel, who do not want to surrender their citizenship. Liberman is hawkish on military affairs, often seeking to position himself as more militant than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Indeed, it was Liberman who brought the coalition to a single-seat majority when he resigned in protest over a ceasefire with Hamas in Gaza, criticizing Netanyahu’s government as soft on terror.

Avigdor Liberman resigned as defense minister in protest over a ceasefire with Hamas, bringing the coalition to a single-seat majority. Now he’s trying to market himself as a more authentically right-wing candidate than Netanyahu.

Yisrael Beiteinu was once the second-largest faction in the Knesset, running on a joint list with Likud in 2013. However, the growing integration of Yisrael Beiteinu’s natural base (Russian Israelis) and the rise of other new right-wing parties have left Liberman’s faction treading water, with most polls placing the party right around the electoral threshold.


United Torah Judaism

United Torah Judaism

United Torah Judaism
Leader: Moshe Gafni (Degel Hatorah) and Yaakov Litzman (Agudat Yisrael)
Current Seats: 6
Government/Opposition in Last Knesset: Government
Supports/Opposes Two-State Solution: Unclear

United Torah Judaism is the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox list, a union of two parties: the “Lithuanian” non-Hasidic Degel Hatorah and the Hasidic Agudat Yisrael. Moshe Gafni leads Degel Hatorah and Yaakov Litzman leads Agudat Yisrael, while each party’s respective political infrastructure is subordinate to separate rabbinical leaderships.

UTJ is a union of two ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi parties.

UTJ is a non-Zionist faction which does not endorse the creation of a secular Jewish state. Accordingly, the party maintains no political commitment to Israeli sovereignty over specific territories and the party has been open to concessions in the past. This peculiarity also means that UTJ MKs tend only to be awarded minor portfolios in the cabinet in order to distance themselves as much as possible from the institutions of the State of Israel.

MK Yaakov Litzman heads Agudat Yisrael, one of UTJ’s constituent factions.

Ultra-Orthodox voters typically took cues from their respective rabbis around elections. However, during the 2018 Jerusalem municipal elections, the rabbinic authorities were unable to come to an agreement on supporting one candidate. This allowed 30,000 ultra-Orthodox Israelis to vote without clerical direction for the first time. It is unclear whether these voters will surrender this newfound autonomy in the national elections.


Shas

Shas

Leader: Aryeh Deri (political), Rabbi Shalom Cohen (spiritual)
Current Seats: 7
Government/Opposition in Last Knesset: Government
Supports/Opposes Two-State Solution: Unclear

Shas is a right-wing ultra-Orthodox Mizrahi political party, currently chaired by Aryeh Deri and directed by a rabbinical body, the Council of Torah Sages.

An Orthodox Mizrahi party, Shas has both a political leadership and a clerical authority, the Council of Torah Sages. The party's spiritual leader is Rabbi Shalom Cohen.

Shas has previously joined coalitions led by both Likud and Labor, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not one of the party’s main priorities. However, longtime Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef did endorse territorial concessions for the sake of peace during the Oslo process. Moreover, several Shas MKs have voiced support for a two-state solution as envisioned by the Geneva Initiative. Nevertheless, the party lacks an official program related to the question of two states, and leans right on other social issues.

Shas leader MK Aryeh Deri could face legal troubles, and the Council of Torah Sages may be less willing to help him this time.

In recent years, Shas has lately been plagued by internal fractures and legal troubles among its membership, including Aryeh Deri. Former Shas head Eli Yishai launched a new far-right party, Yachad, in 2015. Meanwhile, the Israel Police have recommended indictments against Deri on corruption charges (Deri was previously jailed for corruption). While Deri was previously restored to the Shas leadership by the party’s rabbinical overseers, the Council of Torah Sages have been more tepid in their support for the embattled chairman this time around.