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.


French FM holds Iraq talks on Daesh prisoners in Syria

Updated 17 October 2019

French FM holds Iraq talks on Daesh prisoners in Syria

  • One of the issues is Iraq’s use of death penalty, which is outlawed throughout EU
  • Several EU countries sent technical missions to Baghdad to assess the situation

BAGHDAD: France’s top diplomat held talks in Baghdad on Thursday about transferring foreign militants from northern Syria, where a Turkish offensive has triggered fears of mass jailbreaks, to be tried in Iraq.
European governments are worried that the Turkish operation will allow the escape of some of the 12,000 suspected Daesh group fighters — including thousands of foreigners — held by Syrian Kurds.
The issue was top of the agenda for French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in his talks with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed Ali Al-Hakim, President Barham Saleh and Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi.
“We need to work things out with the Iraqi authorities so that we can find a way to have a judicial mechanism that is able to judge all these fighters, including obviously the French fighters,” Le Drian told French TV channel BFM on Wednesday.
The aim is for foreign militants to be tried in Iraqi courts while upholding certain principles of justice and respect for human rights, a French diplomatic source said.
One issue will be Iraq’s use of the death penalty, which is outlawed throughout the EU.
Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden sent officials on a technical mission to Baghdad this week to assess the situation.
“There are talks between the Americans, the British, French and Iraqis about funding the construction of prisons,” Hisham Al-Hashemi, an Iraqi expert on Daesh, told AFP.
Hundreds of foreigners have been sentenced to death or life imprisonment in Iraq for belonging to Daesh.
Eleven French militants handed over to Iraqi authorities early this year by US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria were sentenced to death by a court in Baghdad.
In April, Iraq offered to try foreign Daesh suspects in exchange for operational costs.
One Iraqi official said Baghdad had requested $2 billion to put the suspects on trial.
Turkey on Monday accused Kurdish forces of deliberately releasing Daesh prisoners held at a prison in the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad “in an attempt to fuel chaos in the area.”
Kurdish officials claimed that Turkish bombardments had allowed nearly 800 relatives of foreign Daesh fighters to escape from a camp for the displaced.
According to the Kurdish administration, there are around 12,000 suspected Daesh fighters in the custody of Kurdish security forces across northeastern Syria.
At least 2,500 of them are non-Iraqi foreigners of more than 50 different nationalities. Tunisia is thought to have the biggest contingent.
Officials in Paris say 60 to 70 French nationals are among those held.
The rest are around 4,000 Syrians and roughly the same number of Iraqis.
The fighters, who were detained mostly in the course of operations led by Kurdish forces and backed by the US-led coalition against Daesh, are detained in at least seven facilities.
Western governments such as France have been reluctant to take them back, for lack of a clear legal framework and fears of a public backlash.
Le Drian said Wednesday that the security of Kurdish-run prisons holding suspected militants in northern Syria was “currently” not threatened by the Turkish military operation.