Israel Elections: Parties hand in Knesset lists before deadline

Israel's Religious Zionist Party leader MK Bezalel Smotrich adds anti-LGBT MK Avi Maoz of the Noam Party to his list.

 Illustration from a polling station in Jerusalem, as Israelis vote in their general elections, on March 23, 2021  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Illustration from a polling station in Jerusalem, as Israelis vote in their general elections, on March 23, 2021
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Eighteen of Israel’s political parties handed in their Knesset lists to the Central Elections Committee on Wednesday afternoon, ahead of the deadline at midnight on Thursday. The parties are now officially allowed to receive ballots in the upcoming election.

The only parties currently in the Knesset that handed in lists on Wednesday were National Unity, led by Defense Minister Benny Gantz; Yisrael Beytenu, led by Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman; and the Religious Zionist Party, led by MKs Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir.

National Unity handed in its Knesset list, a list of quality and statesmanlike public servants who are committed to the citizens and committed to change,” Gantz said. “After the election, we will form a broad and stable government that will work for all of the citizens of Israel.”

"National Unity handed in its Knesset list, a list of quality and statesmanlike public servants who are committed to the citizens and committed to change. After the election we will form a broad and stable government that will work for all of the citizens of Israel."

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz

Anti-LGBT party rejoins Israel's Religious Zionist Party

The Religious Zionist Party’s list had a last-minute change, as MK Avi Maoz from the anti-LGBT Noam Party was added as No. 11. Noam on Tuesday evening initially refused the offer, but after opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu met with the party’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Zvi Tau, and with Maoz on Wednesday, he accepted.

 MK Avi Maoz attends an Arrangements Committee meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on June 21, 2021. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) MK Avi Maoz attends an Arrangements Committee meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on June 21, 2021. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Noam ran with the Religious Zionist Party in the previous election. The Religious Zionist Party has been polling recently at 11 or 12 seats, so the spot Noam received is realistic.

The Religious Zionist Party, along with all other parties, had received a number of documents from the Central Elections Committee, calling on them to avoid racist comments, but there was no similar document against supporters of terrorism, Ben-Gvir told the Central Elections Committee.

Smotrich said he was unhappy about a number of decisions that the committee’s head, Supreme Court Justice Yitzhak Amit, had made recently and expressed hope that the election would be fair.

Several politicians and candidates condemned Noam’s addition, including Bayit Yehudi leader Yossi Brodny.

"Ben-Gvir and Smotrich's bringing on a party that has degrades women and calls LGBT people sex perverts is a terrible desecration of God's name. Normal religious-Zionists do not hate people and do not hate the other. I am embarrassed."

Yossi Brodny

“Ben-Gvir and Smotrich’s bringing on a party that degrades women and calls LGBT people sex perverts is a terrible desecration of God’s name,” he said. “Normal religious Zionists do not hate people and do not hate [each other]. I am embarrassed.”

Yesh Atid tweeted: “And on today’s episode of Survivor, what did Netanyahu promise to Avi Maoz? We are betting on either promoting gay conversion therapy in schools or banning abortions.”

Meretz faction CEO MK Michal Rozin tweeted: “Netanyahu joined the darkest forces in Israeli society to collect votes that will save him from his trial. Rabbi Tau claims that women should stay at home and is against women serving in the army, and that LGBT people need to undergo conversion therapy. This is a wake-up call to all those who believe in democracy. We cannot give Rabbi Tau the keys to the country and to manage our lives here.”

Other than Maoz, the Religious Zionist Party also announced a late addition in to the No. 12 reserved for Smotrich: World Bnei Akiva Secretary-General Ohad Tal.

Other Israeli election news with parties submitting final lists

Bayit Yehudi on Wednesday said its candidate for No. 4 on its list is Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of Shurat HaDin, a Tel Aviv-based civil-rights group that conducts a legal and economic struggle against terrorist organizations and countries that oppose the existence of the State of Israel.

Although a deal between Bayit Yehudi and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has not yet been signed, a source from Shaked’s party said she would likely receive spots one, three, five, six and eight on the joint list, while Bayit Yehudi would receive spots two, four, seven, nine and 10.

Although the new configuration fell far below the electoral threshold in polls this week, Shaked would not drop out of the race no matter what, the source said.

The Joint List also announced it had arrived at an agreement for its three factions to run together.

A number of smaller parties who handed in their lists included Prof. Yaron Zelekha’s New Economic Party and MK Eli Avidar’s Free and Democratic Israel Party.

The Netiv Party handed in its list and said it intended to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

The Pirate Party handed in its list, with its representatives wearing pirate costumes, as they do before every election. It said one of its objectives was to lower the electoral threshold to one mandate, or 0.8%.