The 2020 General Elections
2020 Election Campaign – Elections for the 23rd Knesset
The elections for the 23rd Knesset signal a deep rift in the Israeli political system. Even in comparison with other democracies, holding three elections in less than a year is unprecedented. The root cause of this unusual phenomenon is the fact that following the two previous elections (for the 21st Knesset in April 2019, and for the 22nd—in September 2019), the Knesset failed to form a government.
Both elections were held in the shadow of the corruption charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Likud, together with its right wing allies (Shas, Yamina, and United Torah Judaism) received 55 seats together. Blue and White, along with the three leftist lists (Labor-Gesher, the Democratic Union and the Joint List) received 57 seats. The results of the September elections once again put Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beitenu in kingmaker position. As in the April elections, attempts to form a government were unsuccessful. The process took place in parallel with the progress in Netanyahu's legal cases: The hearing took place shortly after the September elections, and on November 21, the Attorney General announced his decision to charge Netanyahu in three cases of suspected bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
After the September elections, both Netanyahu and Gantz failed to form a government – for the first time, the process reached its third "stage" – that is, 21 days during which 61 MKs may submit their endorsement of a candidate to form a government to the president. The 21 day period came to an end on December 11, 2019, at which time the Knesset was dispersed. In order limit the duration of the election campaign somewhat, the Knesset voted by a large majority to hold the elections on Monday, March 2, 2020. Most of the parties did not make many internal changes to the composition of their lists, as compared with the previous elections. The only one which did so was Labor-Gesher, which decided to run in a joint framework with Meretz, which was nicknamed Labor-Gesher-Meretz.
Once again, at the center of this campaign lies the question of the legitimacy of Prime Minister Netanyahu's candidacy, in light of developments in the cases against him. On the first day of 2020, Netanyahu filed for immunity, but four weeks later withdrew the request. On January 28, 2020, the Attorney General filed the indictments in the Jerusalem District Court.