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israeli election 2022

Five elections in just over three years: How did we get here?

Israelis go to the polls today … again. Here’s a look back at the last four elections.

Benjamin Netanyahu canvassing a Jerusalem neighborhood early on Election Day 2022. (Photo: All Israel News)

Israelis have forged a well-worn path to their polling stations in the last few years and have spent $4.2 billion (15 billion shekels) on the previous three and a half years worth of elections. 

How did this happen? As voters head to the voting stations today for the fifth time in less than four years, here’s a look back at how it all started.

2018

Rumblings of a government shake up began after Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman resigned his position in a disagreement with then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over a ceasefire the latter brokered with Hamas. Left with only a one-seat majority, Netanyahu then took a gamble and called for snap elections. He was confident that by preempting the 2019 elections, scheduled for the fall, he would win the premiere-ship again with an earlier vote. 

This set in motion the current cycle of elections that have failed to produce conclusive results or a stable government. 

2019

The first vote was held on April 9, 2019. The result was a tie between Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, head of the Blue and White party. Netanyahu was tasked first with forming a government.

Liberman, though he only gained five seats, became the kingmaker. He stuck to his guns to not sit with Netanyahu, however, and prevented Netanyahu from forming a coalition. Rather than give Gantz a chance, Netanyahu called for another election. 

April 9, 2019 Results

Likud

Benjamin Netanyahu

35

Blue and White

Benny Gantz

35

Shas

Aryeh Deri

8

UTJ

Yaakov Litzman

8

Hadash–Ta'al

Ayman Odeh

6

Labor

Avi Gabbay

6

Yisrael Beytenu

Avigdor Liberman

5

URWP

Rafi Peretz

5

Meretz

Tamar Zandberg

4

Kulanu

Moshe Kahlon

4

Ra'am–Balad

Mansour Abbas

4

WHAT HAPPENED AFTER ELECTION NUMBER TWO?

The next election was set for Sept. 17. It ended in another tie between Likud and Blue and White. After each failed again to muster the 61-seat minimum needed for a majority, the two agreed that the country needed a national unity government, meaning their parties would decide to work together in a government. However, they wouldn’t agree on how to make that work. Netanyahu had just been indicted on alleged corruption charges, complicating matters.

Then-President Reuven Rivlin extended the period to form a government, opening it up to any Knesset Member who recruit 60 fellow lawmakers to join them in a government. Not one was able and Rivlin was forced to call for a new election.

During this election the Joint List of three Arab parties surged to third place.

Sept. 17, 2019 Results

Blue and White

Benny Gantz

33

Likud

Benjamin Netanyahu

32

Joint List

Ayman Odeh

13

Shas

Aryeh Deri

9

Yisrael Beytenu

Avigdor Liberman

8

UTJ

Yaakov Litzman

7

Yamina

Ayelet Shaked

7

Labor-Gesher

Amir Peretz

6

Democratic Union

Nitzan Horowitz

5

THIRD TIME’S A CHARM?

Just days before the country would go into months worth of lockdowns due to COVID, the third election in a year took place resulting in Netanyahu edging out Gantz this time. But because of the pandemic – and the inconclusive previous rounds – Gantz agreed to join an emergency unity government with Netanyahu.

Under the terms of the deal, Netanyahu was supposed to turn over the prime minister spot to Gantz but by year’s end he backtracked on this, failing to put through a two-year budget, and forcing another election.

Again the Arab parties came in third place in this round.

March 2, 2020 Results

Likud

Benjamin Netanyahu

36

Blue and White

Benny Gantz

33

Joint List

Ayman Odeh

15

Shas

Aryeh Deri

9

UTJ

Yaakov Litzman

7

Emet

Amir Peretz

7

Yisrael Beytenu

Avigdor Liberman

7

Yamina

Naftali Bennett

6

AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR

Though he lost several seats, Netanyahu and his Likud party were the clear winners of this round, while Gantz – who enraged many for going back on his word that he would not sit in a government with Netanyahu – sank to just eight seats. Yair Lapid came in second this time.

Netanyahu again failed to put together a government and, instead, opposition leader and head of the Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid was given a shot. Surprisingly, he succeeded and a new government was sworn in on June 2, 2021 – a fragile and wide-ranging coalition of eight parties ranging from right and left wing to an Islamist party. And at the helm was not Lapid but Naftali Bennett, head of the Yamina party which only got seven seats. 

This brought Netanyahu’s 12-year tenure to an end.

The tiniest part, Ra'am, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood – became kingmaker with just four seats and made history by becoming the first Arab party to sit in a coalition.

The government managed to last just over one year until several defections pared down its majority. Bennett and Lapid decided to dissolve the government rather than allow the opposition to vote them out. A new election – the fifth in 3.5 years – was scheduled for Nov. 1.

Which brings us to today. Early results will come in at 10 p.m. after the polls close. Netanyahu's Likud has been polling at the top of the bunch, but it will likely take a few weeks until a coalition is formed – or until it becomes clear that no party can form one and that a sixth election will be needed.

March 23, 2021 Results

Likud

Benjamin Netanyahu

30

Yesh Atid

Yair Lapid

17

Shas

Aryeh Deri

9

Blue and White

Benny Gantz

8

Yamina

Naftali Bennett

7

Labor

Merav Michaeli

7

UTJ

Moshe Gafni

7

Yisrael Beytenu

Avigdor Liberman

7

Religious Zionist

Bezalel Smotrich

6

Joint List

Ayman Odeh

6

New Hope

Gideon Sa'ar

6

Meretz

Nitzan Horowitz

6

Ra'am

Mansour Abbas

4

Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS

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