Lost amid all the reports about Operation Cast Lead this week was the news that 34 parties submitted lists of Knesset candidates for the February 10 election, up from 31 in the 2006 race.
The list includes many new parties, including Koah Lehashpia (The power to influence), Israel's first party for the physically disabled; Tzabar, a young people's party; and Israelim, a party running on a platform of changing the electoral system.
There are four environmental parties and many one-issue parties formed to fight for causes as varied as educational change, Holocaust survivors' benefits, bank reform, and for the rights of divorced men. In the last election, 180,000 people voted for the 19 parties that did not pass the 2 percent electoral threshold; those votes were discarded.
All 12 of the parties in the current Knesset are back, with the only major changes being Meretz joining with the unimaginatively named Hatnua Hahadasha (New Movement), Likud running together with MK Effi Eitam's Ahi party, and the split of the National Union-National Religious Party into the more moderate Habayit Hayehudi and the more hawkish National Union.
The following is a guide to the parties and candidates for the 18th Knesset:
Likud and Ahi
Top 10: Binyamin Netanyahu, Gideon Sa'ar, Gilad Erdan, Reuven Rivlin, Bennie Begin, Moshe Kahlon, Silvan Shalom, Moshe Ya'alon, Yuval Steinitz, Leah Nass.
Key first-timers: Former IDF chief of General Staff Moshe Ya'alon (8th on the list), 30-year-old activist and TV panelist Tzipi Hotovely (18), Ethiopian immigrant Aleli Admasu (28).
Key subtractions: None. All 12 MKs in the current Knesset are in the list's top 16.
Current MKs: 12.
Poll position: 27-33 mandates.
Top 10: Tzipi Livni, Shaul Mofaz, Dalia Itzik, Tzahi Hanegbi, Ronnie Bar-On, Ze'ev Boim, Meir Sheetrit, Ruhama Avraham-Balila, Avi Dichter, Marina Solodkin.
Key first-timers: Jewish Agency Chairman Ze'ev Bielski (15), former IDF spokesman Nachman Shai (18), current Israel Beiteinu MK Yisrael Hasson (25).
Key subtractions: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former finance minister Avraham Hirchson, who quit due to legal problems, and professors Menahem Ben-Sasson and Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael, who quit when they were not ranked high enough on the list.
Current MKs: 29.
Poll position: 24-31 mandates.
Top 10: Ehud Barak, Isaac Herzog, Ophir Paz-Pines, Avishay Braverman, Shelly Yacimovich, Matan Vilna'i, Eitan Cabel, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Yuli Tamir, Amir Peretz.
Key first-timers: Journalist Daniel Ben-Simon (12), former Shimon Peres adviser Dr. Einat Wilf (14).
Key subtractions: Ami Ayalon, who quit politics, and Michael Melchior, whose Meimad Party is running with the Green Movement.
Current MKs: 19.
Poll position: 10-16 mandates.
Top 10: Avigdor Lieberman, Uzi Landau, Stas Meseznikov, Yitzhak Aharonovich, Sofa Landver, Orly Levy, Danny Ayalon, David Rotem, Anastasia Michaeli, Faina Kirschenbaum.
Key first-timers: Former ambassador to the US Ayalon and former foreign minister David Levy's daughter, television broadcaster Orly Levy.
Key subtractions: Hasson and MK Estherina Tartman, who was embarrassed by a scandal over her fictional academic degrees.
Current MKs: 11.
Poll position: 10-13 mandates.
Top 10: Eli Yishai, Ariel Attias, Yitzhak Cohen, Amnon Cohen, Meshulam Nahari, Ya'acov Margi, David Azoulay, Yitzhak Vaknin, Nissim Ze'ev, Haim Amsalem.
Key first-timers: Disabled IDF veteran Ami Biton (14) and former Sderot deputy mayor Oren Malka (15).
Key subtractions: Shlomo Benizri, who was convicted of bribery.
Current MKs: 12.
Poll position: 10-14.
Meretz and The New Movement
Top 10: Haim Oron, Ilan Gilon, Nitzan Horowitz, Zehava Gal-On, Mossi Raz, Avshalom Vilan, Talia Sasson, Tzvia Greenfeld, Tzali Reshef, Issawi Freij.
Key first-timers: Channel 10 foreign desk editor Horowitz and outpost report author Sasson.
Key subtractions: Yossi Beilin and Ran Cohen, who quit politics.
Current MKs: 5.
Poll position: 6-8.
United Torah Judaism
Top 10: Ya'acov Litzman, Moshe Gafni, Meir Porush, Uri Maklev, Menahem Eliezer Moses, Yisrael Eichler, Menahem Carmel, Ya'acov Guterman, Avraham Yosef Lazerson, Shimon Hadad.
Key first-timers: Moses, who replaces Shmuel Halpert as the representative of Viznitz hassidim.
Key subtractions: Veteran legislators Avraham Ravitz and Halpert, who retired.
Current MKs: 6.
Poll position: 6-7 mandates.
NU Top 5: Ya'acov Katz, Uri Ariel, Arye Eldad, Michael Ben-Ari, Uri Bank.
Key first-timers: Arutz 7 founder Katz
Key subtractions: Benny Elon
Current MKs: 2.
Poll position: 4 seats.
Habayit Hayehudi - The New National Religious Party (NRP)
Top 5: Daniel Herschkowitz, Zevulun Orlev, Uri Orbach, Nissan Slomiansky, Shalom Jerby.
Key first-timers: Technion Mathematics Professor Herschkowitz, Journalist Uri Orbach
Current MKs: 5
Poll position: 3
Balad Top 5: Jamal Zahalka, Said Nafa, Hanin Zuabi, Abbas Zakour, Oonie Tuma.
Hadash Top 5: Muhammad Barakei, Hanna Sweid, Dov Henin, Abu Agberiah, Aida Tuma-Kalimah
United Arab List-Ta'al: Ibrahim Sarsour, Ahmed Tibi, Taleb a-Sanaa, Masid Gnaim, Taleb Abu Arar.
Key first-timers: Zuabi is the first Arab woman placed in a realistic slot on the list of an Arab party.
Key subtractions: Azmi Bishara, who fled the country after he was caught helping Hizbullah in the Second Lebanon War.
Current MKs: 10.
Poll position: 3-4 mandates each.
Green Party and Meimad-Green Movement
Green Party Top 5: Pe'er Visner, Dror Ezra, Ariella Ringel-Hoffman, Rafi Kishon, Alex Weinreb.
Meimad-Green Movement Top 5: Michael Melchior, Eran Ben-Yemini, Alon Tal, Yonina Falnberg, Iris Hahn.
Key first-timers: Journalist Ringel-Hoffman, environmental activists Bren-Yemini and Tal.
Key subtractions: Former Shinui minister Avraham Poraz, who was initially on the Green Party list.
Current MKs: 1 (Melchior, as part of Labor-Meimad).
Poll position: Polls show a green list passing the threshold, but the multitude of environmental parties could prevent that from happening.
Pensioners and other small parties
Pensioners Top 5: Rafi Eitan, Gideon Reicher, Yossi Katz, Ya'acov Ben-Yizri, Shimrit Or.
Other parties: Israel Hazaka, Or, Green Leaf, Tzomet.
Key first-timers: Journalist Reicher in the Pensioners Party, comedian Gil Kopatch in Green Leaf, kollel head turned secular activist Yaron Yadan in Or.
Key subtractions: Pensioners MKs Moshe Sharoni, Yitzhak Ziv, Yitzhak Galanti and Sarah Marom-Shalev, who were banished from the list by Eitan to punish them for their constant infighting.
Current MKs: 6 in the Pensioners Party, not including MK Elhanan Glazer, who is running with Tzomet.
Poll position: Some polls say the Pensioners Party will get in. The others have little chance.