Fewer Women, More Generals: What Israel's Next Knesset Is Expected to Look Like

While women are projected to be less well-represented, openly LGBT legislators and retired senior army officers are forecast to have a greater presence

Moshe Ya'alon, Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid and Gabi Ashkenazi launch their joint Kahol Lavan slate in Tel Aviv, February 22, 2019.
Tomer Appelbaum

The outgoing Knesset had a record 35 female parliamentarians in the 120-seat legislature, but if current public opinion polling results are reflected in the actual Election Day results on April 9, their presence is expected to decline to 30. 

The polls are currently predicting that the Gantz-Lapid Kahol Lavan Knesset slate will include 10 women, the largest of any faction, although only two women appear in the top 10 slots on the slate – television broadcaster Miki Haimovich and Maj. Gen. (ret.) Orna Barbivai. 

Based on current polling data collected by Haaretz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is expected to elect seven female Knesset members, only two of whom are in the slate's top 10. Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked’s new Hayamin Hehadash party is expected to include four women among the six member-faction projected to be elected. The Labor Party is forecast to have three women Knesset members and the Hadash-Ta’al slate is projected to have two. 

What the next Knesset is projected to look like

The left-wing Meretz party has two women occupying the four seats it is forecast to win. The United Arab List-Balad slate is projected to have one women Knesset member.

Although Yisrael Beiteinu has women among the top ten slots on its slate, none is forecast to be elected, as is the case for Habayit Hayehudi’s Union of Right-Wing Parties, a slate that includes the National Union and Otzma Yehudit.

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The ultra-Orthodox slates, Shas and United Torah Judaism, include no women, but it should be noted that ultra-Orthodox women are running as candidates for non-religious parties, a trend that may become more prominent in future elections. One ultra-Orthodox woman, Omer Yankelevich, is projected to be elected on the Kahol Lavan slate. A female Labor Party candidate, Michal Chernovitzky, who is also ultra-Orthodox, is not expected to be elected based on current polling data.

If women are projected to be less well-represented, retired senior army officers are forecast to have a greater presence, mostly among the ranks of the Kahol Lavan Knesset contingent, which has three retired army chiefs of staff among its top leadership (Benny Gantz, Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi) and two major generals (Barbivai and Elazar Stern). Its slate also includes two former police major generals, (Mickey Levy and Yoav Segalovich) and a deputy head of the Mossad (Ram Ben-Barak). 

Retired army brass and security agency officials in the Likud Knesset delegation are forecast to include Maj. Gen. Yoav Gallant, former Shin Bet security agency chief Avi Dichter and former army spokeswoman Miri Regev. The Labor Party contingent will include Maj. Gen. Tal Russo and Omer Bar-Lev, the former head of the elite Sayeret Matkal army unit, if current polls are borne out. 

The Union of Right Wing Parties (Habayit Hayehudi, the National Union and Otzma Yehudit) is projected to elect former army Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz and retired Col. Moti Yogev, while the Hayamin Hehadash Knesset faction is expected to include retired Col. Matan Kahana. 

The Knesset is forecast to have 11 non-Jewish members, on either the Hadash-Ta’al ticket or the United Arab List-Balad slate. Kahol Lavan has placed Ghadir Meriah, the Kan public television’s main evening Arabic-language news anchor, in 25th place, which based on current polling results would see her elected as well. 

The polls currently project the re-election to the Knesset of Arab Meretz Knesset member Esawi Freige, who is ranked 4th on the party’s slate. He is followed in the No. 5 spot by Druze high school principal Ali Salalha, but the average polling data do not forecast Meretz electing a fifth Knesset member at this time.

None of the Arab members of the outgoing Knesset who are not members of Arab parties are projected to be re-elected. The current communications minister, Ayoub Kara of Likud, only placed 40th on the Likud election ticket. Labor Party Knesset member Zoheir Bahloul chose to quit the Knesset. His Labor colleague, Knesset member Saleh Sa’ad, is on the Labor Party slate for the upcoming election but will not be re-elected, if current polls hold true on Election Day.

On the Yisrael Beiteinu slate, Druze Knesset member Hamad Amar is ranked among the top ten candidates, but the polls do not project that he or Akram Hasoon, a Druze Knesset member from Kulanu, are ranked high enough to be returning to the Knesset. 

The presence of openly LGBT legislators is expected to more than double. In addition to the re-election of Amir Ohana (Likud) and Itzik Shmuli (Labor), the polls currently predict that three Kahlon Lavan candidates – Eitan Ginzburg, Idan Roll and Yorai Lahav Herzanu – will be elected. 

The Kahol Lavan slate includes a large number of journalists and other media figures, including members who have already represented the Yesh Atid Knesset faction: Yair Lapid, Ofer Shelah and Pnina Tamano-Shata (who resigned last year). Kahlon Lavan is also projected to include media people new to the Knesset: anchorwomen Miki Haimovich and Ghadir Meriah, and columnist Yoaz Hendel. 

The top ranks of the Labor Party ticket include three current Knesset members with a media background: Shelly Yacimovich, Merav Michaeli (who was a Haaretz columnist) and Stav Shaffir. Jerusalem Post deputy managing editor Caroline Glick, who has joined the Hayamin Hehadash party ticket, is projected to be elected and to be a key figure in the party.
In addition, Russian-language journalist and commentator Evgeny Sova is ranked No. 3 on the Yisrael Beiteinu slate and is projected to be elected.