Election 2015

J Street's one-stop resource on the 2015 Israeli Election.

J Street's one-stop resource on the 2015 Israeli Election. All the information, news and analysis you need to keep track of Israel's upcoming election.


Jump to Profiles: Netanyahu | Kahlon | LivniDeri | Yishai | Bennett | Lieberman | Herzog | OdehJump to Party Lists 


Benjamin Netanyahu

Party: Likud
Birthplace: Tel Aviv, Israel
Ministerial Positions: Prime Minister (2009-), Minister of Finance (2003-2005), Minister of Foreign Affairs (2002-2003), Prime Minister (1996-1999)

Now vying for his fourth term as prime minister, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu has cast a long shadow over Israeli politics for nearly two decades. US-educated and a leading commando in Israel’s special forces, he rose quickly through the Likud ranks and was elected party chair in 1993. Following Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination and a wave of suicide bombings, Netanyahu’s opposition to the Oslo Accords contributed to his surprise victory over Shimon Peres in 1996 elections.

As prime minister, Netanyahu opposed making concessions to the Palestinians, though he signed the Hebron and Wye River agreements with the Palestinian Authority during his tenure. He was defeated by Labor’s Ehud Barak in 1999 in Israel’s only direct election for prime minister. In 2002, Netanyahu returned to politics to serve in Ariel Sharon’s government, and again led the Likud after Sharon formed the breakaway Kadima party to push forward the country’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu returned to power in 2009 after Kadima candidate Tzipi Livni was unable to form a government, and he was re-elected without serious opposition in 2013.

Though Netanyahu tentatively endorsed a two-state solution in 2009 and entered into US-led peace initiatives in 2010 and 2013, he has clashed with the Obama administration over the substance of the negotiations and over his government’s settlement policy. He has said that Israel must never relinquish “security control” over the West Bank and that if re-elected he will not evacuate settlements during his term.

Moshe Kahlon

Party: Kulanu (previously Likud)
Birthplace: Hadera, Israel
Ministerial Positions: Minister of Communications (2009-2013), Minister of Welfare and Social Services (2011-2013)

Born in Hadera in central Israel in 1960, Moshe Kahlon spent eight years in the IDF before embarking on a political career. He emerged as a young star of the Likud Party, winning third place in the party’s primary in 2003 and sixth place in 2006. He served as Minister of Communications where he worked to pass a bill to reduce electricity charges for poor families and headed an inquiry into bank fees. His biggest achievement was to engineer greater competition in the cellular phone industry which drastically cut prices for consumers. This cemented his image as a champion of the economically underprivileged, which was burnished when he served as Welfare and Social Services Minister. In 2012, Kahlon took a break from politics and did not run in the 2013 elections. In 2014, he formed a new party, Kulanu, to contest the 2015 elections mainly focusing on social justice issues. Despite his advocacy of progressive domestic policies, he is seen as relatively hawkish on foreign and security policy. But his initial campaign statements on the Palestinian issue were surprisingly moderate, voicing support for two states and territorial compromise, including in Jerusalem.

Tzipi Livni

Party: Hatnuah
Birthplace:Tel Aviv, Israel
Ministerial Roles: Minister of Justice (2013-2014), Minister of Foreign Affairs (2006-2009), Minister of Justice (2006-2007), Minister of Housing (2004-2005)

Born to one of Israel’s eminent right-wing families, Tzipi Livni has transformed from a star of the Likud to one of Israel’s most vocal two-state advocates. Livni launched her Knesset career in 1999, quickly rising through a number of ministerial portfolios under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. A moderate among her party colleagues, she was a strong supporter of Sharon’s plan to disengage from the Gaza Strip and ultimately followed Sharon and Ehud Olmert to their centrist Kadima party to become Israel’s second female foreign minister. In that capacity, she spearheaded peace talks with the Palestinians, coming closer than ever before to an agreement, according to Prime Minister Olmert.

Livni inherited the Kadima leadership following Olmert’s resignation on corruption allegations, but she failed to form a government and fell short in elections. After serving as opposition leader, she resigned briefly in 2012 before founding Hatnuah--one of the few parties in the 2013 elections to openly advocate for two states. She was the first to join Prime Minister Netanyahu’s coalition, serving as justice minister and again representing Israel in peace negotiations. When her ouster from the government in 2014 triggered new elections, Livni partnered with Labor’s Isaac Herzog to form a united center-left challenge to Netanyahu’s re-election.

Livni has argued that only a two-state solution can allow Israel to keep its “values as a Jewish, democratic state” and blamed Israeli settlements for making it “impossible to defend Israel around the world."

aryeh Deri

Party: Shas
Birthplace: Meknes, Morocco
Ministerial Roles: Minister of Internal Affairs (1988-1993), Minister without Portfolio (1993), Minister of Internal Affairs (1993)

One of the more charismatic leaders to emerge from the ultra-orthodox community, Deri was born in Morocco in 1959 and made aliyah to Israel with his family in 1968. Deri became involved in politics while still a yeshiva student and found a natural home in Shas, the ultra-orthodox party formed to represent Jews of Sephardic descent. He served as Minister without Portfolio at the age of 24, and as Interior Minister at 29.

In 2000, Deri was convicted of taking $155,000 in bribes and served 22 months in prison. Nine years after his release, he returned to politics, regaining his old position as head of Shas after a 13-year hiatus. Deri is known as a pragmatist and has kept open relations with leftist and centrist politicians. He has expressed support for a two-state solution in principle.

Eli Yishai

Party: Ha'am Itanu (formerly Shas)
Birthplace: Jerusalem
Ministerial Positions: Minister of Labor and Social Welfare (1996-2000), Deputy Prime Minister (2001-2002, 2006-2009), Minister of Internal Affairs (2001-2002, 2009-2013)

Yishai, leader of the newly-formed HaAm Itanu party, has served in a series of cabinets positions under both Likud and Labor prime ministers – but his career has largely been defined by his political mentor – and later rival – Aryeh Deri. Born in Jerusalem in 1962 to a family that came from Tunisia, he won election to the Jerusalem City Council in 1987. In 1992, he became general secretary of the Shas ultra-orthodox Sephardic party. He has served as Minister of Labor, the Interior, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Industry. He took over the Shas leadership when Deri was convicted of taking bribes. When Deri returned to politics, the two fought an extended battle for the Shas leadership which ended with Yishai’s ouster in 2013. Yishai is notably more hawkish than Deri.  In 2012, Yishai stated that Israel should  “send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for 40 years.”

Naftali Bennett

Party: Jewish Home
Birthplace: Haifa
Ministerial Positions: Minister of the Economy (2013-), Minister of Religious Services (2013-)

Bennett is arguably the most charismatic leader to arise from the ranks of the ultra-nationalist religious community. He had a distinguished military career in elite special forces units, is fluent in English and boasts a successful entrepreneurial background. In 1999, he co-founded and co-owned the encryption and network security software company Cyota, selling the company in 2005 for $145 million. He has also served as CEO of Soluto, a cloud computing service, sold in 2013 for a reported $100–130 million.[ In 2012, he won the leadership election for The Jewish Home, the successor to the National Religious Party, and won 12 seats in the 2013 election. Bennett served as Economics Minister under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A fierce supporter of settlements and opponent of a two-state solution, Bennett advocates the immediate annexation of most of the West Bank. He has distinguished himself with a series of extremist, hardline statements. He has repeatedly said:We will never agree to give up Jerusalem, a united city under Israeli sovereignty, and only Israeli. We will not accept a terrorist Palestinian state, we will not accept an agreement based on the ‘67 lines.”

Avigdor Lieberman

Party: Yisrael Beiteinu
Birthplace: Kishinev, Soviet Union
Ministerial Positions: Minister of National Infrastructure (2001-2002), Minister of Transportation (2003-2004), Deputy Prime Minister (2006-2008, 2009-2012), Minister of Stategic Affairs (2006-2008), Minister of Foreign Affairs (2009-2013)

Born in Kishinev in the Soviet Union (now Chisinau Moldova) in 1958, Lieberman immigrated to Israel with his family in 1978. He entered politics as an aide to Benjamin Netanyahu and served as Director-General of the Prime Minister's Office from 1996 to 1997.

He formed Yisrael Beitenu in 1999, appealing to Soviet immigrants who favored a hardline stance in negotiations with the Palestinians. The party won four seats in the 1999 election. Lieberman served in various ministerial positions but was dismissed from the cabinet in  2004 by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon because of his opposition to the withdrawal from Gaza.

His party was third largest after the 2009 elections and Lieberman became Foreign Minister under Netanyahu. But he lost some ground in the 2013 election when Beitenu ran on an joint list with Likud.

In recent years, Lieberman has tried to adopt a somewhat more moderate image while increasingly diverging from Netanyahu. “I wish pragmatism dominated the political discourse in Israeli society. We are torn between autism, pragmatism and fanaticism,” Lieberman said in one recent appearance. But his party continues to advocate a “peace plan” that calls on the government to encourage the transfer of Israeli Arabs to a Palestinian state by offering them economic incentives.

Isaac Herzog

Party: Labor
Birthplace: Tel Aviv
Ministerial Positions: Minister of Housing and Construction (2005), Minister of Tourism (2006-2007), Minister of the Diaspora, Society and the fight against Antisemitism (2007-2009), Minister of Welfare and Social Services (2007-2011)

Isaac Herzog, universally known by his nickname “Buji,” comes from Israel’s political aristocracy. His father was the distinguished general and diplomat Chaim Herzog who was Israel’s sixth president. Educated partly in the United States, Herzog spent his military career in the Intelligence Corps. He entered the Knesset in the 2003 election and has served in several ministerial positions. Herzog became leader of the Labor Party last November, easily defeating the incumbent, Shelly Yachimovich. Days later, he met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to pledge his support for a two-state solution. Herzog scored a major coup as the 2015 election began by agreeing to run on a joint list with Tzipi Livni’s “Hatnuah” party and to take turns to be prime minister if they won.

Ayman Odeh

Party: Joint (Arab) List
Birthplace: Haifa, Israel

Ayman Odeh was born and raised in  Haifa in a Muslim family – although he describes himself as an atheist. He began his political career on the Haifa City Council as a representative of the leftist Hadash party. After serving seven years, he became the party’s secretary general in 2006. He ran twice on the party’s Knesset list prior to this year but was too low on the list to enter parliament.

After Hadash leader Mohammed Barakeh resigned before the 2015 election, Odeh was elected party leader and helped negotiate the Joint List with other Arab parties. He was placed in top position. Analysts have said that the charismatic Odeh has helped shape a more moderate, pragmatic profile for the list..

Odeh has stressed issues like employment of women, rehabilitation of failing regional councils, recognition of unrecognized Bedouin communities in the Negev, public transportation in Arab towns and eradication of violence. He also said he supported the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in Israel, adding that a Palestinian state should fulfill the same goals for Arab Palestinians.

Yair Lapid

Party: Yesh Atid
Birthplace: Tel Aviv, Israel
Ministerial Positions: Minister of Finance (2013-2014)

Yair Lapid catapulted onto the Israeli political scene in 2012 with his newly-founded Yesh Atid party, but he has since struggled to deliver on the promise of his candidacy. Son of the late Tommy Lapid--former justice minister and chair of the secular Shinui party--Lapid followed his father into politics after working for over twenty years as a popular television anchor, journalist and author.

Yesh Atid’s focus on government reform and “equal share of the burden” for Israeli citizens won Lapid the second-most seats in the Knesset and the position of finance minister in the Netanyahu coalition. Though he succeeded in passing legislation to end military service exceptions for the ultra-Orthodox, his economic policies have been less successful and his popularity has suffered as a result. After Lapid and Netanyahu were unable to reach a compromise over the budget and the “Jewish State Bill,” Netanyahu fired Lapid from the government and initiated new elections.

Lapid has said that he will do everything in his power to prevent Netanyahu’s re-election, but he has stopped short of refusing to serve in another Netanyahu coalition. Though he has spoken in favor of a regional peace agreement with the Palestinians and Arab states, Lapid has also maintained that “Jerusalem is not up for discussion.”



  1. Benjamin Netanyahu
  2. Gilad Erdan
  3. Yuli Edelstein
  4. Yisrael Katz
  5. Miri Regev
  6. Silvan Shalom
  7. Moshe Ya'alon
  8. Ze'ev Elkin
  9. Danny Danon
  10. Yariv Levin
  11. Benny Begin
  12. Tzachi Hanegbi
  13. Yuval Steinitz
  14. Gila Gamliel
  15. Ophir Akunis
  16. David Bitan
  17. Haim Katz
  18. Jackie Levy
  19. Yoav Kish
  20. Tzipi Hotovely
  21. David Amsalem
  22. Miki Zohar
  23. Anat Berko
  24. Ayoob Kara
  25. Nava Boker
  26. Avi Dichter
  27. Avraham Nagosa
  28. Nurit Koren
  29. Yaron Mazuz
  30. Oren Hazan

Zionist Union (Labor/Livni)

  1. Isaac Herzog
  2. Tzipi Livni
  3. Shelly Yachimovich
  4. Stav Shafir
  5. Itzik Shmuli
  6. Omer Bar-Lev
  7. Hilik Bar
  8. Amir Peretz
  9. Merav MIchaeli
  10. Eitan Cabel
  11. Manuel Trajtenberg
  12. Erel Margalit
  13. Micky Rosenthal
  14. Revital Sweid
  15. Danny Atar
  16. Yoel Hason
  17. Zouheir Bahloul
  18. Eitan Broshi
  19. Michal Biran
  20. Nachman Shai
  21. Ksania Svatlova
  22. Ayelet Nachmias-Verbin
  23. Yossi Yona
  24. Eyal Ben-Reuven
  25. Yael Cohen-Paran
  26. Saleh Saad
  27. Lea Padida
  28. Robert Tivaev
  29. Moshe Mizrahi
  30. Eldad Yaniv

Jewish Home

  1. Naftali Bennett
  2. Uri Ariel
  3. Ayelet Shaked
  4. Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan
  5. Nissan Slomiansky
  6. Uri Orbach
  7. Yinon Magal
  8. Moti Yogev
  9. Bezalel Smotrich
  10. Shuli Mualem
  11. Avi Wortzman
  12. Nir Orbach
  13. Rabbi Avichai Rontzki
  14. Orit Struk
  15. Anat Roth
  16. Ronen Shoval
  17. Avishay Boaron
  18. Nachi Eyal
  19. Moshe Solomon
  20. Yehudit Shilat
  21. Moshe Salomon
  22. Danny Dayan


  1. Moshe Kahlon
  2. General Yoav Galant
  3. Eli Alaluf
  4. Michael Oren
  5. Rachel Azaria
  6. Tali Ploskov
  7. Yifat Sassa-Biton
  8. Eli Cohen
  9. Roei Pluckman
  10. Merav Ben-Ari

Israel Beiteinu

  1. Avigdor Liberman
  2. Orly Levi-Abekasis
  3. Sofa Landver
  4. Ilan Shohat
  5. Sharon Gal
  6. Hamad Amar
  7. Robert Ilatov
  8. Oded Porer
  9. Yulia Melanovsky
  10. Shira Mistriel
  11. Alex Miller
  12. Leon Latisnky
  13. Arcadi Pomerantz
  14. Shimon Ohayon
  15. Shadi Halul


  1. Zehava Galon
  2. Ilan Gilon
  3. Esawi Frej
  4. Michal Rozin
  5. Tamar Zandberg
  6. Mossi Raz
  7. Gaby Lasky
  8. Avi Dabush
  9. Avshalom Vilan
  10. Uri Zaki
  11. Revital Lan Cohen
  12. Nir Lahav
  13. Itai Svirski
  14. Smadar Aharoni Muzafi
  15. Tom Dromi-Hakim
  16. Dalia Steiner

United List

  1. Ayman Odeh (Hadash)
  2. Masud Gnaim (Ra'am)
  3. Jamal Zahalka (Balad)
  4. Ahmed Tibi (Ta'al)
  5. Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash)
  6. Abd al-Hakim Hajj Yahya (Ra'am)
  7. Haneen Zoabi (Balad)
  8. Dov Henin (Hadash)
  9. Taleb Abu Arar (Ra'am)
  10. Yosef Jabareen (Hadash)
  11. Basel Ghattas (Balad)
  12. Osama Sa'adi (Ta'al)
  13. Abdullah Abu Maaruf (Hadash)
  14. Juma Azbarga (Balad)

Yesh Atid

  1. Yair Lapid
  2. Shai Piron
  3. Yael German
  4. Meir Cohen
  5. Yaakov Peri
  6. Ofer Shelah
  7. Haim Yellin
  8. Karin Elharar
  9. Yoel Razvozov
  10. Aliza Lavie
  11. Mickey Levy
  12. Elazar Stern
  13. Pnina Tamano-Shata
  14. Boaz Toporivsky
  15. Ruth Calderon
  16. Yifat Kariv
  17. Dov Lipman
  18. Ronen Hofman
  19. Zehorit Shorek
  20. Ofra Finkelstein


  1. Aryeh Deri
  2. Yitzhak Cohen
  3. Meshulam Nahari
  4. Yaakov Margi
  5. David Azoulay
  6. Yoav Ben Tzur
  7. Yitzhak Vaknin
  8. Avraham Michaeli
  9. Haim Bitton
  10. Yigal Guetta
  11. Michael Malchieli
  12. Rafi Barnes

Ha'am Itanu/Otzma Yehudit

  1. Eli Yishai
  2. Yoni Chetboun
  3. Michael Ayash
  4. Baruch Marzel
  5. Sason Treblesi
  6. Aharon Tzohar
  7. Dudi Shwamenfeld

United Torah Judaism

  1. Yaakov Litzman
  2. Moshe Gafni
  3. Meir Porush
  4. Uri Maklev
  5. Menachem Elizer Moses
  6. Israeli Eichler
  7. Yaakov Asher
  8. Eliezer Sorotzkin

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