Some important facts and figures about Israeli elections

A woman takes a photo of her daughter at a polling station in Rosh Haayin, Israel, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. (AP)
Updated 18 September 2019

Some important facts and figures about Israeli elections

  • The last elections in April were not conclusive and the winner of the largest block was unable to form a majority government.
  • No government in the history of Israel has been formed without a coalition with smaller parties

JERUSALEM: Polls opened at 7 a.m. for the 22nd Israeli Knesset made up of 120 members. A coalition of 61 seats is needed to set up a government. 

The two biggest parties are the Likud, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, and Blue and White, headed by former Israeli army general Benny Gantz. 

No government in the history of Israel has been formed without a coalition with smaller parties. The current election campaign has focused on a huge split within Israel’s Jewish population based on the difference between secular and religious Jews. 

Soviet-born Avigdor Liberman who heads a small party Yisrael Beiteinu, politically is closer to Netanyahu on the right, but is extremely opposed to the religious parties which insist on a waiver from serving in the Israeli army. This makes it near impossible for Netanyahu to form a 61+ coalition.

The last elections in April were not conclusive and the winner of the largest block was unable to form a majority government.

The number of eligible voters is 6.39 million, among them nearly 1 million are Palestinian citizens of Israel. Among the voters, 14 percent are 24 years of age or younger, and 30 percent are 25-39 years old. The largest demographic of voters is between 30-59, which forms 31 percent of the electorate. One quarter of the eligible voters are over 60 years, according to official figures.

The Central Election’s Committee says 10,788 election boxes will be supervised by 3,000 civil servants hired by the Israeli central election committee. Since the last elections in April the number of eligible voters has gone up by 50,000.

Palestinian citizens of Israel hope for a rise in the percentage of voters from last April’s 46 percent which brought 10 Knesset members, when they ran on two sperate lists, to something closer to the 64 percent that voted for the joint list in the 20th Knesset and sent 13 members to the Knesset. The joint list which had broken up last April was reunited in the summer giving their leaders hope that this unity will produce better results.


Gulf countries announce measures to cut links with Iran as coronavirus cases rise in Middle East

Updated 27 min ago

Gulf countries announce measures to cut links with Iran as coronavirus cases rise in Middle East

  • The UAE suspended all passenger and cargo flights to Iran
  • Kuwait has canceled celebrations for national holidays on Tuesday and Wednesday

DUBAI: Gulf countries announced new measures on Tuesday to cut links with Iran to prevent coronavirus spreading after the confirmation of 20 new cases, all of them people returning from the Islamic republic.

The UAE suspended all passenger and cargo flights to Iran after Kuwait and Bahrain announced the additional cases of COVID-19.

Over the past two days, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman have reported 29 cases of the novel coronavirus among people returning from pilgrimages to Iran, which is battling the deadliest outbreak outside China and where the death toll has reached 16.

Bahrain also announced 15 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number affected in the kingdom to 23 — including six Saudi women — after some of the people had returned from Iran via Dubai and Sharjah in the UAE.

The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority “suspended all passenger flights and cargo to and from Iran starting today and for one week,” a statement carried by the official WAM news agency said, adding that the ban could be extended.

Also on Tuesday, the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed tweeted that the UAE was ready to provide all forms of support to help China combat the spread of the virus.

Shortly after, the Bahraini authorities said citizens were banned from traveling to Iran “until further notice.”

In neighboring Kuwait, three new cases were recorded among Kuwaiti men who had been under quarantine after returning from Iran.

Oman, which on Monday reported its first cases of coronavirus in two Omani women who had returned from Iran, reported an additional two cases.

Muscat was making arrangements to bring back its citizens from the Islamic republic, the foreign ministry said, a day after it suspended all flights to and from Iran.

Oman also announced that it will suspend the import and export of goods from Iran from Wednesday.

The three countries have large Shiite Muslim populations who frequently travel to Iran to visit holy shrines.

The UAE has already announced 13 coronavirus cases, all foreigners, including an Iranian couple who had traveled from Iran.

Kuwait has canceled celebrations for national holidays on Tuesday and Wednesday and also scrapped all sports events to counter the spread of the disease.