The 2019 Elections
After surviving several coalition crises, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's fourth government (in office since May 2015) disbanded in December of 2018. The formal reason given for the early Knesset dissolution was the governing coalition's inability to obtain a majority to push forward legislation that would authorize a proposed solution for the interminable issue of ultra-Orthodox military service. The resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and his Yisrael Beitenu party in November, ostensibly due to the perceived inadequate military response to attacks from Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip, left the coalition with a fragile majority of 61 members. The law dissolving the Knesset passed on December 26, 2018 and the parliament set Election Day for April 9, 2019.
The early stages of the campaign saw several political splits and the emergence of new parties vying for the Knesset. On the right wing of the political map, Ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked broke off from the Jewish Home and established The New Right Party. In the center-left, the Zionist Union split up after Labor Chairman Avi Gabbay announced the end of his party's joint list with MK Tzipi Livni's Hatnua party. Another party that broke up was the Joint List, when MK Ahmad Tibi's announced his Ta'al party will run independently. In addition, new political forces popped up in the center: Gesher (headed by MK Orly Levy-Abekasis), The Israel Resilience Party (headed by former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Ganz) and Telem (headed by former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon). The latter two later announced they will run together as a joint list.
In the next phase of the campaign the parties turned to finalize their list of candidates. Three parties - Likud, Labor Party and Meretz - held internal elections ("primaries") to determine their slates. The Zehut Party, headed by former MK Moshe Feiglin, conducted 'open' primaries where non-party member are eligible to vote, while the remaining lists are determined by the party leaders, small nomination committees, or by internal party institutions. In the final days before the deadline for handing in the lists two merges were recorded with the aim of reducing the risk of wasted votes, in light of the high threshold (3.25%). The Jewish Home, which already agreed on the continuation of cooperation with the Ihud Leumi, decided to run this time also with the far-right Otzma Yehudit, dicsiples of Meir Kahane. The joint list is called Union of Right-Wing Parties. In the center of the map, a political "big bang" occured with the decision of Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid to join the Israel Resilience Party and Telem in a joint list under the name Blue and White.