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Mar 18, 2015

Israeli Election Results 2015: What Does This Mean?

netanyahu victory
Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party claim victory in the 2015 election.

Last night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party won Tuesday’s parliamentary elections, scoring 30 seats in the Knesset, compared to the Zionist Union led by Isaac Herzog, which gained 24 seats, and the Joint List (an Arab Israeli coalition of parties) which gained 14 seats. Many were not expecting the Likud party to win again and have described the right-wing victory as an upset. This win solidifies Netanyahu’s fourth term as prime minister; he will soon make history as the longest-serving prime minister of Israel since David Ben-Gurion.

Earlier this week, while the Likud party was trailing in the polls, Netanyahu made the bold statement that “A Palestinian state would not be established on his watch if re-elected,” (Source) in order to appeal to and bolster the right-wing vote. The Arab turnout at the polls was higher than expected, leading Netanyahu to declare that the Arab population benefits from “distorting the true will of Israeli citizens toward the left and giving excessive power to the extreme Arab list… the rule of the right is in danger.” According to the Jerusalem Post, “People who have not voted in years—or at least not for Likud—felt the need to save Israel from the Left, Iran and from a hostile international community.” By making heavily politicized statements late in the campaign, the right-wing Likud party was once again able to solidify its majority power in the Knesset.

Palestinian Responses

Although the Joint List, an Arab Israeli coalition, was able to gain a small number of seats in the Knesset, unsurprisingly, the Palestinian response toward Netanyahu’s victory has been less than thrilled. Sabri Saidam, advisor to Mahmoud Abbas, stated that Netanyahu’s rejection of any establishment of a Palestinian state proves that “Israel has chosen apartheid rather than peace, thus bringing an end to the peace camp in Palestine.” A senior Fatah official was recorded as stating, “A vote for Netanyahu and the right-wing parties is a vote against peace and for more war and bloodshed.”

Likewise, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat stated the results show “the success of a campaign platform based on settlements, racism, apartheid, and the denial of the fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people.” (Source).

The results of the election and Netanyahu’s continued denial of rights of sovereignty for the Palestinian people strengthen Palestinian leaders’ case against Israel in the International Criminal Court.

Feb 26, 2015

Israeli Elections 2015: A Further Look at the Candidates

On 17 March 2015, Israeli citizens will be taking to the polls as their votes are expected to reflect a shift in national conservatism to a more moderate governmental policy. Current Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu recently fired top officials within his government as a result of the many disagreements within the coalition, resulting in a parliamentary decision to dissolve the government and hold elections earlier than their usual date.

Each party has certain policies towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, varying from extreme Zionist (opposing the creation of an independent Palestinian state) to more moderate stances (including a two-state solution). As explained in our previous post, these political stances enacted by political parties help us to understand how these upcoming elections marginalize Palestinians and hinder their role in the vote.

The elections are now less than a month away and there is strong implication of a possible shift in political ideology. This shift can ultimately cause moderate opposition-coalitions to replace Israel’s current conservative faction which would allow moderates to gain more seats and a louder voice in parliament.

Just like our article on the 2013 elections, we have laid out all prominent parties and their candidates for this year’s election. We have highlighted specific quotes each candidate has said on various issues including, but not limited to: settlement policies, a Palestinian state, a Jewish state and the pending peace process.


The Likud Party, founded and united in 1973, is currently Israel’s ruling conservative party headed by Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu. In regards for a policy of a two-state solution, there have been very few Likud members who were openly in favor. Several members have called for a formal annexation of the West Bank and have proposed harsh measures to deal with Palestinian demonstrators. The Likud also emphasizes the belief that “peace can only come when groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah are dismantled.”  (Source)

Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister)

On settlement policies:
"Israel must never relinquish security control over the West Bank and that if re-elected I will not evacuate settlements during my term." (Source)

Gilad Erdan (Interior Minister of Israel)

On Palestinians:
"The Palestinians are stubborn opponents who have chosen a path of war and lies against Israel." (Source)

Yuli Edelstein (Speaker of the Knesset)

On the creation of a Palestinian state:
“I don’t think it is a great idea to create a Palestinian state that we may have to attack a year from now because it will be an unlimited source of terrorism the way the Gaza Strip is.” (Source)

Yisrael Katz (Ministry of Transport and Road Safety)

On Jerusalem:
“Ideology cannot be changed like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. We are in a struggle for the Land of Israel, for the essence of our existence here. We must tell the U.S. we have red lines we will not cross.” (Source)

Miriam ‘Miri’ Regev (MK)

On African refugees in Israel:  
“[They] are a cancer in the body [of Israel].” (Source)

Silvan Shalom (Minister for Regional Development, Minister for the Development of the Negev and Galilee and Minister of Energy and Water)

On settlement freezes:
“If the Palestinians leave the [peace] talks, it will be clear that [settlement building] is just an excuse.” (Source)

Moshe Ya'alon (Defense Minister of Israel)

On the two-state solution:
"You can call it the new Palestinian empire. We don’t want to govern them, but it is not going to be a regular state for many reasons." (Source)

Ze'ev Elkin (MK)

On 1967 borders:
"To all those who are now making proposals for Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders, there is only one reply: The 1967 borders are Auschwitz borders! The only reply that Likud government should give to such proposals is: No!" (Source)

Danny Danon (Chairman of World Likud)

On the 2014 Gaza war:
"I would still say the ceasefire was a mistake.” (Source)

Yariv Levin (MK)

On Palestinians in Israel:
“We will use an iron hand and demonstrate zero tolerance of Arabs who are liable to identify with the terror of the Palestinian state.” (Source)

Benny Begin (Former MK)

On Palestinians:
“I think any second state of any nature, another sovereignty west of the Jordan River, especially when it comprises the PLO or Hamas, would negate or contradict two basic rights of the Jewish people and the citizens of Israel.” (Source)

Tzachi Hanegbi (Deputy Foreign Minister)

On relations with the U.S.:
"The dilemma is, how much can Israel insist and disagree and oppose this [U.S. deal with Iran], while simultaneously preserving our wonderful, intimate relationship with the U.S." (Source)

Yuval Steinitz (Minister of Intelligence, International Relations and Strategic Affairs)

On 1967 borders:
“The demand for Israel to withdraw to the 1967 lines, without holding on to the Jordan Valley, without defensible borders, without security control, and without the demilitarization of Gaza... is a recipe for collective suicide.” (Source)

Ophir Akunis (Deputy Minister in the Office of Prime Minister and Environmental Protection)

On the two-state solution:
“We are here to block [Abbas] and to block the establishment of a Palestinian state on the hilltops of Judea and Samaria. These are tracts of land that have been ours for 4,000 years.” (Source)

Tzipi Hotovely (Deputy Minister of Transportation, and Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Space)

On settlements:
“When radical Islam is rearing its ugly head, it is clear to all Israelis that the settlements of Judea and Samaria are not the problem, but the solution.” (Source)

Ayoob Kara (Former MK)

On Israeli Arabs:
"Druze see themselves as an integral part of the State of Israel, and Arabs want them to be a part of the Arab agenda." (Source)

Avi Dichter (Former Director of Shin Bet)

On Gaza:
“There is no other choice, Israel must carry out a formatting action in Gaza, actually format the system and clean it out, the way we did in Judea & Samaria during Operation Defensive Shield.” (Source)

Yoav Kish (Representative of Tel Aviv Area)

On Jerusalem:
“There is no doubt that my first and basic outlook is that, where there are Jews, it is Israel and where there are Palestinians – I don’t want them to vote for me.” (Source)

Miki Zohar (Representative of Negev Area)

On a Palestinian state:
"If a large number of citizens want a state, I am not opposed to it – as long as they know we are here to stay. My approach is that if someone attacks, you should respond tenfold. At the same time, if someone shows good will, I will give him tenfold more." (Source)

Anat Berko (Research Fellow, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism)

On a Palestinian state:
“We need to negotiate with them in good faith and see if there is a solution, which must be regional. Meanwhile, we need to rely on ourselves. We are still in a war of survival, in the war of independence that never ended.” (Source)

David Amsalem (Representative of Jerusalem area)
David Bitan (Representative of Southern Coastal Area))
Nava Boker (MK)
Gila Gamliel (MK)
Oren Hazan (Candidate and the son of former Likud MK Yehiel Hazan)
Haim Katz (Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman)
Nurit Koren (Candidate for Women’s spot)
Jackie Levi  (Representative of Galilee Area. He is also the son of former Foreign Minister David Levi and brother of MK Orly Levi-Abecassis of Yisrael Beiteinu)
Yaron Mazuz (A member of the City Council in the Haifa suburb of Kiryat Motzkin)
Avraham Nagosa (Candidate for Immigrant Representative)


Labor Party/ Livni (Zionist Union)

The Labor Party is the founding party of Israel, having controlled the political scene for the first 29 years of Israel’s establishment. The party is led by former Prime Minister Isaac Herzog, who has announced that the Labor Party is forming a coalition with Tzipi Livni’s party for the upcoming elections. The party supports a peaceful solution with Palestine and opposes the Jewish State Bill, which declares that Israel is the state of the Jewish people. (Source)

Isaac Herzog (MK and Chairman of Labor Party)

On a Palestinian state:

"Voting for Palestinian statehood may finally open the door for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, strengthen the possibility of a two-state solution, and greatly improve Israel’s position in the region and in the international community.”  (Source)

Tzipi Livni (Minister of Justice)

On a Palestinian state:

“It’s clear that the sovereign Palestinian state must accept limitations. Certainly demilitarization.” (Source)

Shelly Yachimovich (MK)

On peace talks:

“Ending Palestinian demands, ensuring security arrangements, relinquishing the [Palestinian] right of return, and recognizing Israel as a Jewish and democratic state must be an inevitable result of these talks." (Source)

Stav Shaffir (MK)

On peace talks involving Jordan and Egypt:

“I think that the Arab initiative is something we need to adopt (with minor changes) and bring the international community into that understanding. It is not only a conflict between us and the Palestinians.” (Source)

Itzik Shmuli (MK, Former chairman of the Israeli Student Union)

On Netanyahu and alliance with Livni party:

“It's no secret that Livni and I aren't on the same page in terms of ideology, but I felt more assured when she said that Labor would set the tone when it comes to the social agenda. After all, Bibi has been prime minister for six years and the country is going nowhere. This move offers an opportunity to topple Netanyahu – end of story." (Source)

Omer Bar-Lev (MK and Labor Party’s point person on peace and defense)

On the Netanyahu government:

“Netanyahu is currently playing tricks on the U.S. at the expense of Israeli interests.” (Source)

Hilik Bar (Secretary General of Labor Party)

On peace talks:

“Israel’s government should present a vision of peace that truly addresses not only our security and other needs but also the needs and the future of the Palestinian people.” (Source)

Amir Peretz (Previous Environmental Protection Minister)

On Netanyahu:
"Netanyahu went back to the extremist statements from his political past, showing he does not want a [peace] agreement. He’s not the solution, he’s the problem." (Source)

Merav Michaeli (MK and Former Journalist)

On negotiations:
"If you are negotiating in order to reach some result, then you have no interest in humiliating the other side, because [if you do so] you won’t achieve your result.” (Source)

Eitan Cabel (MK)

On Jerusalem:
“A united Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and thus it shall remain with any future agreement [with the Palestinians], but Palestinian villages such as Issawiya and Beit Hanina aren’t really part of the city, and in the long term Israel’s clear interest is to transfer them to Palestinian control.” (Source)

Zouheir Bahloul (Former Sportscaster):

On destroying the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem:
“I want to rehabilitate relations between Jews and Arabs and establish true equality for all Israeli citizens.” (Source)

Danny Atar (MK)
Yoel Hason (MK)
Erel Margalit (MK)
Micky Rosenthal (MK )
Revital Sweid (MK)
Manuel Trajtenberg (MK)


Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home)

Yisrael Beiteinu follows Revisionist Zionism. There are three basic principles in their party: “1) Unity of Nation; 2) The State of Israel as the National Homeland of our People; and 3) No Citizenship Without Allegiance.” Yisrael Beiteinu views the State of Israel as a “miracle” of the Jewish people having their own homeland. They are unwavering regarding the right of Israel to remain a Jewish, Zionist state, and believe that the “Law of Return” does not conflict with Israel’s democratic vision. Yisrael Beiteinu claims to “stand without compromise” regarding Israel remaining a Jewish state.

Yisrael Beiteinu demands that Arabs living in Israel declare their allegiance to Israel and serve in their military. They also believe that anyone who observes Nakba Day is “something [to] fight practically and unequivocally,” and the only solution for Israeli-Arab relations is a two-state solution; deporting Palestinians who ultimately will not declare their allegiance to Israel. (Source)

Avigdor Lieberman (Minister of Foreign Affairs, previous Deputy Prime Minister of Israel)

On Operation Cast Lead 2009:
“We must continue to fight Hamas just like the United States did with the Japanese in World War II. Then, too, the occupation of the country was unnecessary.” inferring that nuclear destruction is more feasible than continued occupation.” (Source)  

Sofa Landver (Minister of Immigrant Absorption)

On Right of Return:
“This is the state for the Jews.” (Source)

Ilan Shohat (Mayor of Safed)

On integration of Israeli and Arab Students:
"The Arab students, who from my point of view are the city's guests, don't completely understand how to behave in their host city." (Source)

Hamad Amar (MK, Serves in Finance Committee)

In response to Ahmad Tibi's accusation that Israel is a racist state:
“No one is going to deny that there are problems in the State of Israel, as there are in any state. However, the state has not created any laws that differentiate between peoples based on religion, nationality or background." (Source)

Robert Ilatov (MK)

On proposed legislation to ban the Muslim call to prayer:
"Hundreds of thousands of citizens in Israel, in the Galilee, the Negev, Jerusalem and other locations in central Israel suffer on a regular basis from noise that is caused by muezzin calls in mosques." (Source)

Alex Miller (MK)

On his reasoning for proposing anti-Nakba law:
"So either we want education for coexistence and peace, or we want pupils to be brainwashed and incited against [other] citizens of their state from an early age.” (Source

Shimon Ohayon (MK)

On a Palestinian state:
"The basic thing that the Palestinians need to do is recognize Israel as a Jewish State. This is the only Jewish State, so this condition is above and beyond all others. There is no problem for a Palestinian nation to find self-expression in other places.” (Source

Sharon Gal (Former Journalist)

 On Israel becoming a Shari'a state:
“This slow acceptance of Sharia, due to threats of violence, is merely emboldening and incentivizing the ongoing and heightening attempts to attack Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. We need to fight back.” (Source)

Shadi Halul (MK)

 On voting for Arab parties:
"All the Arab states discriminate and persecute the Christians and expel them, and we don’t want Arab control here. We want Jewish and democratic rule here.” (Source)
Shira Mistriel (MK)

On Settler Violence in a 2010 Facebook post:
"Smelly Arabs… for those who haven’t seen, there is a video on YouTube ‘An Arab is hit by a car.’ Have a great night.” (Source)

Orly Levi-Abekasis (MK)
Leon Litinsky (MK)

Yulia Melanovsky (Chairman of the Student Union for Ariel University)
Arcadi Pomerantz (MK)
Oded Porer (Former Director of the Ministry of Immigration Absorption)


Shas was founded in 1984 as an ultra-orthodox party, calling for Israel to “return the crown to the former glory” and to end discrimination against Sephardic Israelis. Shas believes Jerusalem to be non-negotiable in peace-talks and opposes a Palestinian state. (Source)

Aryeh Deri (Former Interior Minister)

On the peace process:
"We strive for peace, but not at the expense of Jews who can live in the land of Israel and realize their rights in the land of Israel.” (Source)

Yitzhak Cohen (Former Deputy Minister of Finance)

On refugees:

"The uprooted Jews' problem is equal to, if not greater than, the Palestinian refugees' problem." (Source)

Yitzhak Vaknim (MK)

On Jerusalem:
“I do not support negotiations with Jerusalem at all.” (Source)

Yaakov Margi (Former Minister of Religious Services)

On settlement freezing:
“Any talk on freezing (building) is a choke hold on the settlements. I hope that the [Netanyahu] will not freeze the settlements. There is no place for this, especially when there is no peace process. The decision not to allow building is immoral and inhumane.” (Source)
David Azoulay (MK)
Rafi Barnes
Haim Bitton
Yigal Guetta
Michael Malchieli
Avraham Michaeli (MK) co-sponsored a bill that would annex West Bank (Source)
Meshulam Nahari (Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance)
Yoav Ben Tzur (MK)


Ha’am Itanu (The People Are With Us)/Yachad (Together)

Ha’am Itanu is a far-right political party that emerged in late 2014 that seeks to politicize Judaism. (Source)

Eli Yishai (Former Minister of Internal Affairs)

On peace talks:
"There is absolutely no point… The Land of Israel needs to build and be built, period.” (Source)

Yoni Chetboun (Former Deputy Speaker)

On a two-state solution:

"... the Land of Israel belongs exclusively to the People of Israel because of our historic and biblical rights. We should not be embarrassed; it’s the truth." (Source)

Michael Ayash (MK)
Dudi Shwamenfeld (Former Radio Host)
Sason Treblesi (MK)
Aharon Tzohar (MK)


HaBeyit HaYehudi (The Jewish Home)

HaBeyit HaYehudi is a religious, right-wing Zionist political party that was formed in 2008 as the successor to the National Religious Party.” It is currently the fifth-largest political party in the Israeli Knesset. The basic platform of this party upholds the opposition to any creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and strongly states that Jerusalem is, “the eternal capital of the Jewish people and the state of Israel solely, and will not be divided.” The platform also supports the existence of settlements in the West Bank, remaining under Israel’s sovereignty, as they are important for the future and security of Israel. The Jewish Home says that it will “fight for the Jewish identity of the state on every level: culture, character, personal status, society and legislation, as a Jewish and democratic state. (Source)

Naftali Bennett (Leader of HaBeyit HaYehudi, Minister of the Economy, Minister of Religious Services)

On killing Palestinian prisoners rather than bringing them to trial:
"I’ve killed a lot of Arabs in my life… and there’s no problem with that.” (Source)

Uri Ariel (MK, Minister of Construction)

On settlements:

"Jerusalem will never again be divided. There are and will be no more freezes [on settlement construction], and we will not put up with the delays or restrictions [on construction] in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria." (Source)

Ayelet Shaked (MK)

On settlement policies:
"We should manage the conflict and not give up on any centimeter of land.” (Source)

Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (MK, Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs) 

On religion:

"The souls of all Jews are higher than those of Christians or Muslims or anybody else." (Source)

Nissan Slomiansky (MK, Knesset Finance Committee)

On Israel’s indirect funds to the PA:
"We have to defend ourselves. It's not just a game of money anymore. We are indirectly encouraging terror against ourselves and the murder of our citizens. We must stop this.” (Source)

Yinon Magal (Journalist and Editor of Walla)

"I’m not embarrassed to love the Land of Israel, the people of Israel and the Torah of Israel. The Bayit Yehudi [party] is my home." (Source)

Moti Yogev (MK)

"This is our home. And the more we accept this premise, the more other nations will accept us. We’re suffering from not knowing ourselves; the more we learn about ourselves and our collective history, the less we will be pressured into concessions to our enemies.” (Source)

Shuli Mualem (MK) 

On the Levy Report:

"Just as the Palestinians are running to The Hague, the Israeli government should approve as soon as the Levy Report [stating that the West Bank and Gaza belong to Israel]." (Source)

Avi Wortzman (MK)

On a two-state solution:
"The Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people. We oppose a two-state solution.” (Source)

Rabbi Avichai Rontzki (Candidate, Former IDF Chief)

On 2014 Gaza war:

"Troops who show mercy towards the enemy in wartime will be damned." (Source)

Orit Struk (MK, Founder of  Human Rights Organization of Judea and Samaria)

On suspension of peace talks:
"Stopping the negotiations is the most needed and obvious thing.” (Source)

Ronen Shoval (Founder of Im Tirtzu) 

On the Knesset:

"In order to maintain the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, we must work together against anti-Zionists who are working to destroy its Jewish-Zionist-democratic character." (Source)

Danny Dayan (Former Chairman of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria)

On peaceful non-reconciliation:
"There should be zero tolerance for violence on either side.” (Source)

Anat Roth (Former Activist of Peace Now)

On a Palestinian state:

“The last decade shows us that the desire for peace was and remains a thing of the Israeli side only, and that the processes in the Palestinian Authority and around us show that an Israeli withdrawal from land will lead to the establishment of a terrorist state.” (Source)

Yehudit Shilat (Takana Chairwoman):

“Even if one third of the MK's will be secular, Jewish Home will still be a Religious-Zionist party.” (Source)

Bezalel Smotrich (Lawyer)

On a Palestinian state:

“When the Palestinians realize that they cannot achieve a state in the heart of Israel, they will not try to fight us to achieve it. The talk about a Palestinian state encourages them to terrorize us and push us toward this dangerous place, that will never happen anyways. If you want to cut down terror, you must cut down the hope that keeps it alive.” (Source)

Avishay Boaron (Candidate)
Nachi Eyal (Candidate, director-general of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel)
Rabbi Hillel Horowitz (filling Nir Orbach’s position upon his recent death)
Nir Orbach: (MK)
Moshe Solomon (Candidate)


Yesh Atid

Yesh Atid was formed in 2012 by former TV anchor Yair Lapid, attempting to reach out to middle class Israelis.  After his party won the second most seats in the 2013 elections, Lapid served as Minister of Finance under Netanyahu before the collapse of the Knesset late-2014. Yesh Atid’s main focal points are the economy, fighting political corruption, reforming the healthcare and educational system, as well as the rights and responsibilities that come with being a citizen of Israel.  They also believe in a “two-state two-people” ideology. (Source)

Yair Lapid (Minister of Finance, Former TV Anchor)

On Palestinians:
"We need to separate ourselves from the Palestinians. It is not marriage that I am seeking, it is a decent divorce.” (Source)

Shai Piron (Former Minister of Education)

On anti-settlement sentiments:

"[We] cannot continue to agree to limiting our great vision. For me, paradoxically, the vision of the Complete Land of Israel will strengthen the connection between our young people and the Land's borders." (Source)

Ruth Calderon (MK)

On Palestinians:
"I also believe in speaking to Palestinians. Even with those who fight us, discussion is meant to bring understanding and peace.” (Source)

Ronen Hoffman (MK) 

On peace talks:

"I think we should immediately go back to the negotiating table with the PA. I support Yesh Atid’s plan for a two-state solution. It was a mistake that Netanyahu’s government ignored the PA. As a result, Hamas got stronger. We should go back to speaking to the PA." (Source)

Dov Lipman (MK)

On Law of Return (aliya):
"The long-term strategic vision of increasing aliya from the West is a necessary one and a worthwhile investment for the State of Israel.” (Source)

Haim Yellin (Head of Eshkol Regional Council) 

On Gaza conflict:

“You have to finish the job in Gaza with demilitarization, or an agreement or truce; if not, then we have to eliminate them.” (Source)

Yaakov Peri (Minister of Science, Technology and Space)

On Netanyahu:

“I am convinced that the prime minister is damaging Israel's security. I say it day and night…He is hurting Israel's security and the safety of soldiers, as the Americans draw a link between their relationship with Netanyahu and the State of Israel and Abbas' moves at the International Criminal Court.” (Source)

Meir Cohen (Minister of Welfare and Social Services)
Karin Elharar (MK)
Ofra Finkelstein (MK)
Yael German (Minister of Health)
Yifat Kariv (MK)
Aliza Lavie (MK)
Mickey Levy (Former Deputy Minister of Finance)
Yoel Razvozov (MK)
Ofer Shelah (MK)
Zehorit Sorek (MK)
Elazar Stern (MK)
Pnina Tamano-Shata (First Ethiopian-Israeli woman in the Knesset)
Boaz Toporovsky (MK)