1996

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Elections for the 14th Knesset

29.5.1996

Number Eligible Voters

3,933,250

Block Percent

1.5%

Total Voters

3,119,832

Number of valid votes

3,052,130

Precent of voters

79.3%

table
Party Votes Count Seats Count Votes Percent List Of Candidates Platform
Labor Party 818,741 34 26.8 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Likud 767,401 32 * 25.1 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Shas 259,796 10 8.5 Candidates Candidates
National Religious Party 240,271 9 7.9 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Meretz 226,775 9 7.4 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Yisrael Ba-Aliya 174,994 7 5.7 Candidates Candidates
Hadash 129,455 5 4.2 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
United Torah Judaism 98,657 4 3.2 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Third Way 96,474 4 3.2 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Arab Democratic Party 89,514 4 2.9 Candidates Candidates
Moledet 72,002 2 2.4 Candidates Candidates
Unity for the Defence of New Immigrants 22,741 - 0.7 Candidates Candidates
Gil 14,935 - 0.5 Candidates Candidates
Progressive National Alliance 13,983 - 0.5 Candidates Candidates
Telem Emuna 12,737 - 0.4 Candidates Candidates
Settlement Party 5,533 - 0.2 Candidates Candidates
Yamin Yisrael 2,845 - 0.1 Candidates Candidates
Men's Rights in the Family (Ra-ash) 2,388 - 0.1 Candidates Candidates
The Arab Union for Progress and Renewal 2,087 - 0.1 Candidates Candidates
Daam 1,351 - 0.0 Candidates Candidates

Note that the lists of candidates and platforms in this table are in Hebrew.

About the 1996 Elections

The elections for the 14th Knesset were held six months after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, and a wave of terrorist attacks carried out against civilian population centers in Israel by the Palestinian rejectionist organizations in the months that preceded the elections. These were the first elections in which the voters were called upon to cast two ballots tickets—one for the Knesset and the other for the candidate for prime minister. The parties adjusted rapidly to the new rules, and the two major parties—Labor and the Likud—invested most of campaign resources into promoting their candidates for the premiership rather than into their Knesset campaign. The small parties, on the other hand, especially the sectorial parties, emphasized the option of splitting the vote without risk—a vote for a small party in the Knesset race, and for the head of the ideological camp in the race for prime minister.

The campaign was very tense, and the struggle between the candidates for prime minister—Binyamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres—was decided in favor of Netanyahu by a very narrow margin of 30 thousand votes (less than one percent). The results of the Knesset election made it clear that the two ballot system was harmful for the large parties. The Labor Party retained its place as the largest parliamentary group, but lost ten seats in comparison with the previous elections. Netanyahu won, and was elected prime minister, but the Likud only managed to preserve its power (32 seats) after running in a joint list with Tzomet and Gesher. The power of the sectorial parties increased. A new sectorial party, representing the recent wave of immigrants from the former Soviet Union—Yisrael B'Aliya, headed by Natan Sharansky—won seven seats. The Arab parties were greatly strengthened and received nine seats together, and the religious parties were also strengthened, and together received 23 seats in the new Knesset.

Binyamin Netanyahu, the first Prime Minister of three, who were elected directly, formed a coalition made up of six parliamentary groups: Likud-Gesher-Tzomet, Shas, Yisrael B'Aliya, the NRP, HaDerech HaShlishit (a single issue party around the future of the Golan Heights) and Yahadut HaTorah. The coalition had a majority of 66MKs.

Additional Reading

Asher Arian and Michal Shamir (eds.), The Elections in Israel 1996, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999.

Daniel J. Elazar and Shmuel Sandler (eds.) Israel at the Polls 1996,London: Frank Cass, 1998.