Israel’s Elections – what’s next?

In an unexpected turn of events, the Knesset voted to dissolve itself on May 29, shortly after the deadline for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a coalition, triggering an unprecedented second election.

New Elections on September 17

Following the April 9 elections, Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to have secured a fifth consecutive term as Prime Minister, with the best showing for Likud under his leadership, promising results for potential coalition partners and a strong right-wing block majority. Yet, after PM Netanyahu was unable to bring together two key coalition partners to form a right-wing government, the lawmakers voted 74-45 in favor of a Likud-drafted bill, which dissolved the existing parliament and set the election date for September 17. Likud, its potential coalition partners and the Arab-Israeli parties voted in support of the motion. By voting to dissolve the Knesset, Knesset effectively prevented President Reuven Rivlin from granting another Knesset member the opportunity to form a coalition.  

The coalition-building crisis: religion and state

At the heart of the crisis was the clash between Likud’s key coalition partners: the ultra-Orthodox parties and secular nationalist Yisrael Beytenu, led by former Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman. Both were required to form a coalition, yet failed to reach agreement on the issue of the law to draft ultra- Orthodox conscripts to the IDF. While Yisrael Beyteinu chairman Avigdor Liberman demanded the coalition pass the conscription law ending the exemption of the yeshiva (religious school) students from army service, the ultra-Orthodox parties strongly disagreed.

Currently, military service is mandatory for all Israelis, with the exception of Arab citizens of Israel and yeshiva students. In September 2017, the Supreme Court rejected parts of the 2015 conscription law exempting ultra-Orthodox students from the military service, calling it discriminatory and unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ordered the government to pass a new law which would treat equally yeshiva students. In December 2018, the controversy over the new conscription bill proposed by then-Defense Minister Liberman was the official reason used for dissolving the Knesset and calling early elections in April 2019. The bill set yearly targets for drafting ultra-Orthodox men, introducing financial sanctions for yeshivas that don’t meet the quotas, yet allows for the remaining yeshiva students to remain except.

What’s next – Election calendar

July 26Final electoral register is published, it takes effect three days later
August 2Deadline for parties to submit their candidate lists to the Election Committee
August 9Deadline for submitting a request to the Election Committee to prevent a list from running in the elections
August 18The Election Committee announces its approval or rejection of the submitted lists
August 20Chairman of the Elections Committee announces his decision regarding appeals on approving or banning lists
Sept. 3Beginning of the electoral broadcasts in the television
Sept. 5Voting day for Israeli diplomats and emissaries sent abroad
Sept. 17Election Day
Sept. 18President of Israel begins consultations with elected party leaders for the formation of the next coalition
Sept. 25
Swearing-in ceremony of the 22 Knesset
Oct. 2-3Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-indictment hearing
Oct. 9Deadline for submission of appeals to the election results
Days after the electionsPresident appoints a Knesset member to form a new coalition.
The apointee will have 28 days for this task, with a possible 14-day extension.
If he doesn’t succeed, the president can grant this mandate to another Knesset member.