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Israel’s 13 biggest political parties, each explained in one sentence

Sunday 14 April 2019, by siawi3


A beginner’s guide to the 2019 Israeli elections

By Jewish Telegraphic Agency Staff

March 13, 2019 4:30 pm

Israel’s 13 biggest political parties, each explained in one sentence

Israel’s election is a free for all: Instead of two major parties, there’s a whopping total of 40 parties competing at the ballot box. Israelis vote for parties, not individual candidates (the candidates are chosen by the parties, some through primaries). The more votes a party gets, the more seats it has in Israel’s 120-seat parliament, the Knesset. A government is formed by a coalition of like-minded parties that captures more than 60 seats.

More than a dozen parties could make the next Knesset. Here’s a short description of each of them.

The front-runners :

Likud, Israel’s right-wing flagship, and Netanyahu’s party, opposes a Palestinian state, supports settlements and encourages privatization in the economy — but its main selling point is the longtime prime minister, who is seeking his fifth term.

Blue and White is a new centrist coalition led by a former military chief of staff, Benny Gantz. It was created to oppose Netanyahu and his alleged corruption.

Supporting actors on the right :

The New Right is kind of like Likud on steroids: Led by the prominent figures Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, the party staunchly opposes Palestinian statehood and supports settlement growth, and features a very hawkish defense policy — what its platform calls an “iron fist†against Israel’s enemies.

Jewish Home-Jewish Power is the controversial union between a religious Zionist party and a far-right party, also known as Otzma Yehudit, that supports implementing religious law and waging “total war†on Israel’s enemies.

Israel Beiteinu champions the interests of Russian-speaking immigrants, along with a hard-line defense policy that calls for the execution of terrorists.

Kulanu is a center-right party focused on lowering Israel’s high cost of living.

Zehut is an unusual mix: libertarian — and in favor of marijuana legalization — but strongly against Palestinian statehood and Arab-Israeli equality.

Supporting actors on the left :

Labor is the sad trombone of Israeli politics. Once the left-wing flagship and largest party in the country, it’s now an also-ran to Blue and White.

Meretz is about as far left as you can go while remaining Zionist, supporting a Palestinian state alongside Israel along with minority rights and religious pluralism within Israel.

Haredi Orthodox :

United Torah Judaism is the Ashkenazi haredi party — the guys (they’re all guys) who support Orthodox control of Israel’s religious life, oppose mandatory army service for their followers and speak Yiddish.

Shas is the Sephardi haredi party — the guys (again, all guys) who stand for religious traditionalism as well as the rights of Israel’s Mizrahi (Middle Eastern and North African) Jewish population.

Arab Israeli :

Hadash-Taal supports Palestinian statehood and advocates for Israel’s Arab minority.

Balad-Raam supports Israel being a secular state for all its citizens and no longer a Jewish state.

— Ben Sales