Detangling the Israeli Election Results

By: Sharona

Israeli elections were just held on Tuesday, January 22nd, ending the season of politicians scrambling for votes and beginning another season of building a new government. Though many outside of Israel may be tempted to think that things will be the same in the Israeli government since Netanyahu was reelected Prime Minister, this could not be further from the truth. The Israeli government will be completely restructured according to the parties that won and according to who will join to become a coalition. The results suggest some big changes and new focus in the upcoming years.

Israel is a multi-party parliamentary system in which parties and candidates are determined according to proportional representation. This is one of the fairest forms of democracy but can also be one of the most confusing due to the number of parties all vying for seats in the government. Basically, there are many parties that are focused on various issues and positions from the far left to the far right. Israelis cast their vote for the party that is focused on what they deem to be most important rather than voting for individuals. Seats in the Knesset are then allotted according to the percentage of the vote that went to a party. So if a party won 10%, they receive 10% of the seats. Usually, the largest party’s leader becomes prime minister and must then form a coalition, appointing cabinet members (heads of various departments, such as education or foreign affairs) from other parties who received a high percentage of votes. Those who are not in the coalition are still active members of the Knesset and can try to further their goals in the parliament.

Prior to the 2013 election, many Israeli citizens were experiencing a record low esteem of government and politics in general. Many people were tired of politicians, such as Lieberman and Olmert, being caught in corruption scandals. Other politicians dismayed voters by hopping parties and changing their stances on issues whichever way would give them more leverage to be in a place of power. Such disgruntlement definitely shaped the results of the election! In the end, 50% of current, experienced Knesset (parliament) members were booted out and are being replaced by fresh faces with no parliamentary or government experience, for better or for worse. Two newly formed parties, Yesh Atid (There is a Future) and Habayit Hayehudi (The Jewish House), took far more votes than expected with Yesh Atid coming in second behind Netanyahu’s Likud party.

In addition to new faces, the election resulted in a nearly 50/50 split between the right wing and left wing parties in the Knesset who will now need to work together to run the government. This could create a very balanced government that will try to focus equally on internal social issues and on security and international affairs or this could lead to an inability to get anything done.

For these reasons, there are many unknowns in the upcoming government. It is all the more important that we keep these leaders in our prayers regardless of who is chosen to be in the government (1 Timothy 2:1-3). This is a pivotal time for Israel and one in which she is facing many challenges. There are many security, economic and internal issues to tackle and Israel must have leaders with wisdom and integrity to be able to make the right decisions. Lapid and Bennett have touted their beliefs with Bennett making it clear he hopes to lead according to Biblical principles and Lapid mentioning that he always carries around a Bible from the 16th century and believes in the Word.

Furthermore, many believers in Israel are hopeful as Lapid is related through marriage to a believer and has been seen at a few events that believers also attended. Many are also praying for a coalition to be built without the ultra-Orthodox party, Shas, which has been known to persecute believers. Shas is currently in control of the Ministry of Interior, where those who wish to immigrate must go. This has presented many challenges to believers immigrating and many who are completely Jewish (according to Jewish law, or “halacha”) have been refused simply because they believe in Yeshua. Thankfully, we can be confident that no matter who ends up in a coalition, God is in control and will use it for His purposes (Romans 13:1-7).

In sum, these elections could bring new and exciting changes to Israel or it could mean that even less is achieved. Israel needs strong leaders who have wisdom and act justly to lead during this crucial period in Israel’s history.

Important Prayer Points:

  • Pray that the great number of new people who have never been in politics would mean greater integrity and less corruption and that they would not also begin to succumb to the temptation to play corrupt power games.
  • Please pray that both new and seasoned leaders would be given wisdom to lead and that they would seek to make just decisions that are not self-interested
  • Intercede for Israel’s leaders to return to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and for those who are trying to serve Him to come to the knowledge of their Messiah
  • Please also pray that those who have set themselves against God or against His followers would not be given a significant voice in the new government
  • Continue to pray for Israel in this period in history-that God would bring His restoration and that she could live in peace rather than in fear

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