Israel Elections: Which parties are running, what are their policies?

A breakdown of the parties and their policies ahead of the Israeli election, as well as voting strategies and possible outcomes.

 Workers prepare ballot boxes for the upcoming Israeli elections, at the central elections committee warehouse in Shoham, before they are shipped to polling stations, October 12, 2022.  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Workers prepare ballot boxes for the upcoming Israeli elections, at the central elections committee warehouse in Shoham, before they are shipped to polling stations, October 12, 2022.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

 Likud leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu (credit: Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP via Getty Images) Likud leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu (credit: Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP via Getty Images)

LIKUD

  • Leader: Opposition head MK Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Next up: MK Yariv Levin, MK Eli Cohen, MK Yoav Gallant
  • Political bloc: Right
  • Founded: 1973

Key policies:

  • The Likud is the only party that can form a stable government.
  • Economy: Three conditions for economic success: a stable government, personal leadership of the prime minister, a temporary and non-populist emergency plan.
  • Two basic elements of the economic plan: curbing the increase in prices and reducing taxes.

1. Curbing the rise in prices:

  • Immediate price reductions on the inflation generators – lowering the price of electricity, fuel and water, and freeze property tax rates for a year.
  • Lowering food prices by lowering taxes and duties.

 2. Tax reduction:

  • Lowering the income tax by further spacing the tax brackets and further increasing credit points, plus negative income tax reinforcement and corporate tax reduction in favor of encouraging growth and income.
  • Funding sources for the program: use of excess taxes and streamlining the public sector.
  • Housing: Issuing government bonds linked to housing prices, reducing demand; shortening the time for obtaining building permits and implementing a “retroactive enforcement” model – build first, then receive permits; land subsidies for construction for young couples and increasing the budget for supporting infrastructure before construction; a carrot and stick method with the contractors – if they own land and don’t build, they will get a stick; if they build fast, they will get a carrot.
  • Education: Free education for children ages until age three. This will reduce family expenses by tens of thousands of shekels, which will allow both parents to work and the economy to grow. 

 Yesh Atid leader, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid (credit: Amir Levy/Getty Images) Yesh Atid leader, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid (credit: Amir Levy/Getty Images)

YESH ATID

  • Leader: Prime Minister Yair Lapid
  • Next up: Economy Minister Orna Barbivay; Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen; Energy Minister Karin Elharrar; Social Equality and Pensioners Minister Meirav Cohen
  • Political bloc: Center
  • Founded: 2012

Key policies:

  • Security: Maintain Israel’s technological empowerment in order to ensure security edge. Initiate a plan called “economy in exchange for security in Gaza,” which will enable humanitarian restoration of Gaza in exchange for opposing Hamas’s empowerment.”
  • Economy: Increase competitiveness in the economy as a central tool to reduce the cost of living, expand the import reform, lower tariffs and work to speed up the start of operations of the new ports in Haifa and Ashdod.
  • Jump-start the hi-tech industry and employ a million Israelis in the hi-tech industry.
  • Governance: Enact the law that prohibits a person accused of crimes from receiving the mandate to form the government, serving as president or state ombudsman.
  • Gender equality: Incentivize large workplaces to have kindergartens and daycare centers in their frameworks and allow the extension of working hours from home.
  • Establish an emergency system for women in times of crisis, improve the system of shelters for battered women and enact the Electronic Handcuffs law and the law to prevent economic violence against women.
  • Climate: Enact the climate law that will set a goal of carbon neutralization by 2050 and ensure the establishment of a climate council in the Prime Minister’s Office that will see to the implementation of the law.

 Religious Zionist leader MK Bezalel Smotrich (L) and Otzma Yehudit leader MK Itamar Ben-Gvir (credit: ARIE LIEB ABRAMS/FLASH90, YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Religious Zionist leader MK Bezalel Smotrich (L) and Otzma Yehudit leader MK Itamar Ben-Gvir (credit: ARIE LIEB ABRAMS/FLASH90, YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

RELIGIOUS ZIONIST PARTY

  • Leaders: MK Bezalel Smotrich, MK Itamar Ben-Gvir 
  • Next up: MK Ofir Sofer, MK Orit Struk, Yizhak Waserlauf
  • Political bloc: Right
  • Founded: 2021. Religious Zionist Party is the rebranded name of Ichud Leumi-Tkuma Party, with the addition of candidates from Otzma Yehudit and Noam.

Key policies:

  • “Restart” the judicial system, which includes canceling the crime of fraud and breach of trust; changing the makeup of the Judicial Selection Committee so that politicians have a majority; enacting a provision that enables the Knesset to legislate laws that were blocked by the High Court; enacting the French Law, which blocks any criminal proceedings against ministers.
  • Death penalty for terrorists: An end to terrorists’ celebration in prison; terrorists who kill Jews have only one punishment – death.
  • Immunity law for IDF soldiers for acts committed while serving: Changing the rules of engagement so that instead of endangering the lives of soldiers and citizens for “humane” and “moral” reasons, soldiers can shoot terrorists and will be granted immunity from prosecution.
  • Deportation Law: Those who throw stones and Molotov cocktails – with the aim of murdering Jews, members of the security forces and civilians, and those who publicly support terrorism against the State of Israel – will have their citizenship revoked and will be deported.
  • De facto sovereignty in Judea and Samaria: Dismantling the Civil Administration for Israeli citizens who reside in the West Bank, and putting the settlements under the direct jurisdiction of the government.
  • Aliyah: Canceling the provision in the Law of Return that allows grandchildren of Jews, who themselves are not Jewish according to Halacha, to make aliyah.
  • Conversion: Enacting a law that conversion must remain under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate and must be conducted according to Orthodox tradition.
  • Enacting legislation to enable long-term imprisonment of illegal immigrants and a law to promote “voluntary immigration” to their original country or to a third party.

 Defense Minister Benny Gantz (M), Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar (R), former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90) Defense Minister Benny Gantz (M), Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar (R), former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)

NATIONAL UNITY

  • Leaders: Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot
  • Next up: Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata; Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton; Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper
  • Political bloc: Center
  • Founded: 2022. A merger of Gantz’s Blue and White, and Sa’ar’s New Hope.

Key policies:

  • Establish a broad, stable government headed by Gantz that does not rely on the extremes on both sides of the political map and will take Israel out of the political bedlam.
  • Implement a strong and experienced security policy in the face of Israel’s security challenges on all fronts.
  • Make public security a central goal and implement the Eisenkot Plan to eradicate crime, strengthen personal security, and restore governance all over the country.
  • Protect the democratic regime and preserve the independence of the judicial system and the separation of powers.
  • Continue to promote the economy, maintain its stability, and ensure that all Israeli citizens enjoy its fruits. Commitment to pass the law on free education from age 0.

 Shas leader Arye Deri (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Shas leader Arye Deri (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

SHAS

  • Leader: Former MK and minister Arye Deri
  • Next up: MK Ya’acov Margi; MK Yoav Ben-Tzur; MK Michael Malkieli
  • Political bloc: Right
  • Founded: 1984

Key policies:

  • Addition of NIS 1 billion in the base of the budget every year in order to bring back Arye Deri’s food security cards to the weaker sectors of Israeli society.
  • Establish a government authority to fight poverty.
  • Cancel “Avigdor Liberman’s taxes” on plastic-ware and soft drinks
  • Maintain a Jewish Israel, maintain the Jewish tradition, and cancel the “decrees” of the previous government.
  • Forming a Jewish government led by Benjamin Netanyahu.

 UTJ leaders Yitzhak Goldknopf and Moshe Gafni (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) UTJ leaders Yitzhak Goldknopf and Moshe Gafni (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

UNITED TORAH JUDAISM

  • Leaders: Yizhak Goldknopf, MK Moshe Gafni
  • Next up: MK Meir Porush; MK Uri Makleb; MK Yaakov Tessler
  • Political bloc: Right
  • Founded: 1992. A joint list made up of the ultra-Orthodox parties Agudat Israel and Degel HaTorah.

Key policies:

  • Housing: Establishing a National Housing Council, a body of professionals that will ensure a long-term housing strategy without dependence on the government’s makeup.
  • A significant expansion of land marketing as a response to the supply failure in the housing sector.
  • Adequate representation for the haredi public in the planning committees, releasing bureaucratic blockages and accelerating projects in stages of approval.
  • Education: Preventing collective punishment of ultra-Orthodox students: correcting the distortion of budgeting for schools that do not teach the core curriculum, which is currently 24% of the budget instead of 55% as required by law.
  • Equating the salary of haredi teaching staff to the salary of teachers in the general sector, in accordance with the agreement signed with the Teachers Union.

 Yisrael Beytenu leader Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman (credit: Iakovos Hatzistavrou/AFP via Getty Images) Yisrael Beytenu leader Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman (credit: Iakovos Hatzistavrou/AFP via Getty Images)

YISRAEL BEYTENU

  • Leader: Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman
  • Next up: Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Oded Forer; MK Evgeny Sova; Brig.-Gen. (res.) Sharon Nir
  • Political bloc: Center-Right
  • Founded: 1999

Key policies:

  • Governmental stability: Enacting a law that for the first two years, a Knesset may only disperse with a majority of minimum 90 MKs. Requiring two-year budgets, and legislating laws barring a prime minister from serving while under indictment or for more than two terms.
  • Personal safety: A national plan to strengthen and empower the Israel Police at a cost of NIS 3 billion, which will include an addition to the current strength of 3,000 police officers.
  • Economy: Broadening criteria to receive work grants for people who are over 26, single and make up to NIS 8,000; privatizing the Ashdod port and Haifa airport; canceling the “exclusive importer status.”
  • Haredi sector: Core studies in educational institutions as a condition for government support, with external supervision that will include annual testing; forming a special program for training teachers to teach core subjects in the haredi sector; and canceling special status of haredi schools that do not teach core studies.
  • Advancing the conscription law, lowering the exemption age for conscription and passing it in the Knesset.
  • Aliyah: Keeping the Law of Return as it is.
  • Enacting a national plan to help immigrants integrate into the Israeli workforce, and a law that requires adequate representation of new olim in the public sector.

 Labor leader Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90) Labor leader Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

LABOR

  • Leader: Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli
  • Next up: MK Naama Lazimi; MK Gilad Kariv; MK Efrat Rayten
  • Political bloc: Left
  • Founded: 1968

Key policies:

  • Stop hurtling toward the reality of a binational state, and defining separation from the Palestinians as a national strategic goal.
  • Strengthening the position of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state while renewing negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
  • Housing: Five-year plan to build 150,000 public housing units for long-term rental at affordable prices.
  • Regulating the private rental market: tax exemption only for long-term landlords and strengthening tenants’ rights.
  • Education: Free, quality public education from the end of maternity leave until age three.
  • Gradual cancellation of parents’ payments to the education system, to be replaced by state funding.
  • Senior citizens: Increasing the senior citizen allowance per household to 25% of the average salary and to the minimum salary for senior citizens without a pension.
  • Job market: Gradual increase of the minimum wage to NIS 7,000; extension of social security provisions to include the self-employed.
  • Immediate shortening of the work week from 42 to 40 hours per week and a multi-year process to reduce it to 36 hours per week; gradual addition of 10 paid vacation days in the coming years (from 12 to 22), in accordance with OECD averages.
  • Extending maternity leave and applying it to mothers and fathers.

 Meretz Leader Zehava Galon (credit: GILI YAARI/FLASH90) Meretz Leader Zehava Galon (credit: GILI YAARI/FLASH90)

MERETZ

  • Leader: Former MK Zehava Galon
  • Next up: MK Mossi Raz; MK Michal Rozin; MK Ali Salalha
  • Political bloc: Left
  • Founded: 1992

Key policies:

  • Governance: Legislating the Defendant’s Law within three months of the inauguration of the government.
  • Housing: An emergency national social housing plan, including state construction of hundreds of thousands of housing units; introducing affordable housing clauses in every new housing plan; eliminating the waiting list in public housing; developing models for long-term rental; and creating protection mechanisms for apartment prices and rent control.
  • Climate: Green New Deal, Blue and White – Reducing carbon emissions to zero in 2030 and a renewable energy target of 10% of all Israeli energy consumption in 2030 and 110% in 2050; a national plan for energy efficiency.
  • A comprehensive efficiency and savings policy in state institutions; the security system; and the industrial, agricultural, business and private sectors.
  • Implementation of the government’s decision to establish a solar power plant in the Negev, while taking into account sites with sensitive desert ecosystems.
  • Expanding human rights protected by Israeli law in accordance with the UN; legislation of the Basic Law: Social Rights, which will include the right to health, education, housing and a dignified existence, to unionize and to strike.
  • Correcting the discrimination against Israel’s Arab citizens and developing a comprehensive plan for affirmative action of the Arab population in all areas of life in cooperation with the Arab public.
  • Canceling the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People; legislation of Israel’s Declaration of Independence as a Basic Law.

 Hadash leader MK Ayman Odeh, Ta'al leader MK Ahmad Tibi (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90) Hadash leader MK Ayman Odeh, Ta'al leader MK Ahmad Tibi (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)

HADASH-TA’AL

  • Leaders: MK Ayman Odeh, MK Ahmad Tibi
  • Next up: MK Aida Touma-Sliman; MK Ofer Cassif; Youssef Atauna
  • Political bloc: Unaffiliated.
  • Founded: 2019. Formerly part of the Joint List

Key policies:

  • The end of the occupation, the evacuation of all settlements, and the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state within the borders of June 4, 1967, with east Jerusalem as its capital.
  • Repealing the Nation-State Law, the Kaminitz Law against illegal construction, and all “racist” laws.
  • Dealing with the phenomenon of violence and organized crime in Arab and general society by increasing enforcement and changing the discriminatory social conditions that lead to crime.
  • Raising the minimum wage to 70% of the average wage in the economy.
  • Free education from the age of three months up to the academic education system.

 Ra'am leader MK Mansour Abbas (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90) Ra'am leader MK Mansour Abbas (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)

RA’AM

  • Leader: MK Mansour Abbas
  • Next up: MK Walid Taha; Walid Alhouashla; MK Iman Khatib-Yasin
  • Political bloc: Religiously conservative, politically affiliated with Center-Left
  • Founded: 1996

Key policies:

  • Full-fledged political involvement in domestic issues, particularly with respect to crime, employment opportunities, housing and infrastructure.
  • Support of the two-state solution, and the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with east Jerusalem as its capital.
  • Closing the gaps in the Arab educational system and support for both the establishment of an Arab university and the development of industrial zones near Arab communities.

 Habayit Hayehudi leader Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES) Habayit Hayehudi leader Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)

HABAYIT HAYEHUDI

  • Leader: Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked
  • Next up: Yossi Brodny; Amitai Porat; Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
  • Political bloc: Right
  • Founded: 2008, when the National Religious Party (Mafdal), merged with Yamina

Key policies:

  • Education: Gradually expand the law of free preschool education; strengthening the study of the Bible, Judaism and Israeli heritage at all age levels.
  • Transportation: Continue improving Israel’s light rail and fast-train networks, and complete the legislation of the Metro Law; promote infrastructure for autonomous vehicles.
  • Security: An iron fist toward all provocations from Gaza and Lebanon, total opposition to the release of terrorists, maximum punishment for terrorists and their aides, revoking citizenship status of terrorists and their families.
  • Health: Promote the health infrastructure in the periphery. Reduce overcrowding in hospitals, in addition to establishing a new hospital in Kiryat Ata and Beersheba. Strengthen community medicine. Promote medical hi-tech in Israel.
  • Crime: A “zero weapon” policy, the elimination of terrorism on the roads, and the continuation of the fight against agricultural terrorism. Stabilize and strengthen the National Guard that was established this year.
  • Palestinians: Promote the agreements with the moderate Arab countries. Oppose any political move with the Palestinians. Support for the application of Israeli law to Area C, while granting citizenship or residency and self-administration, at their choice, to the tens of thousands of Arabs living in this area.
  • Religion and state: The state’s character must be determined by negotiations among all parts of society, and not determined by unilateral legislation. The Gabizon-Medan Covenant to be used as a compass for all disputed issues, including marriage and Shabbat in the public sphere. Implementation of the Kashrut Reform, and work toward an agreed conversion reform.

 Balad leader MK Sami Abu Shahadeh (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Balad leader MK Sami Abu Shahadeh (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

BALAD

  • Leader: MK Sami Abou Shahadeh
  • Next up: Former MK Mtanes Shihadeh; Doaa Houch Tatour; Walid Ka’adan
  • Political bloc: Unaffiliated
  • Founded: 1996. Formerly part of the Joint List

Key policies:

  • A “state of all its citizens” – replacing Israel’s definition as a Jewish state with a political identity built around shared citizenship within the state without regard to religion or ethnicity.
  • Full and equal citizenship for all.
  • The end of the occupation equals the beginning of peace.
  • Equal education for all.

Voting philosophies

Strategic voting

Parties need to pass the electoral threshold to make it into the Knesset. With some parties hovering not far above the threshold, voters may “strategically” choose small parties.

On the Right, this would be Habayit Hayehudi, which has yet to pass the threshold in any poll.

On the Jewish-Israeli Left, this would be Meretz or Labor, both of which are not far above the threshold in polls.

Among the Arab parties, both Hadash-Ta’al and Ra’am are not far above the threshold. Balad has yet to pass it in polls.

But beware…

Strategic voting for small parties may lead to your vote being wasted. If, for example, Habayit Hayehudi does not pass the threshold, your vote for it will not be counted.

Strategic voting for big parties

For voters who believe that what matters is the largest party, strategic voting means the opposite – voting for the biggest party despite feeling ideologically closer to one of the smaller ones. In this election, that would entail either for the Likud or for Yesh Atid, which appear to be the leading parties by far on each side.

One more caveat

Polls in Israel are notoriously known to get things wrong for a variety of reasons. The outcome may be far different than what your strategic choice was based on. The wisest decision may simply be to vote according to who best represents what is most important to you.

Who will not sit in a coalition with whom

Ruled out Netanyahu + Religious Zionist

  • Yesh Atid
  • National Unity
  • Labor
  • Meretz
  • Yisrael Beytenu
  • Ra’am
  • Hadash-Ta’al

Ruled out Hadash-Ta’al

  • Yesh Atid
  • Likud 
  • Religious Zionist Party
  • National Unity
  • Yisrael Beytenu
  • Habayit Hayehudi

Ruled out all Arab parties

  • Likud
  • Religious Zionist Party

Ruled out all haredi parties

  • Yisrael Beytenu

Possible outcomes

Right coalition led by Netanyahu

  • Likud
  • Shas
  • UTJ
  • Religious Zionist Party
  • Habayit Hayehudi

Center-Left-haredi coalition led by Gantz/Lapid

  • Yesh Atid
  • National Unity
  • Shas 
  • UTJ
  • Labor 
  • Meretz
  • Ra’am

A surprise coalition/kingmaker

A sixth election…