Skip To Content
Fast Forward

Confused About The Israeli Election Results? Here’s Everything You Need To Know.

Remember those logic puzzles you’d do for extra credit in middle school math class? Just imagine trying to solve one of those, but the result determines who gets to lead a country.

The second Israeli election campaign in less than six months concluded Tuesday, and we still don’t know who won, long after the polls closed.

Opposition leader Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White alliance got 32 seats in the 120-member Knesset, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party earned 31. But neither of them have an obvious path to getting other parties to join with them so that they can get 61. That’s the minimum needed to start governing.

Here’s where the logic puzzle comes in:

Netanyahu needs both Avigdor Liberman’s secular nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party and the ultra-Orthodox parties. But they refuse to work with each other.

Likewise, Gantz can’t get enough seats to form a government without both Yisrael Beiteinu and the Arab parties. They also refuse to work with each other.

Liberman wants Netanyahu and Gantz to team up and share power with him – but Gantz said during the campaign that he won’t work with Bibi.

For his part, Netanyahu has a complicated plan to poach a few minor politicians who until now have supported Gantz, and get enough seats that way.

If you can figure all that out, you get extra credit, and should probably be put in charge of arranging the seating chart at your next Seder.

So what happens now?

The President of Israel is largely an honorary position, but this is one of the only times that their actions matter, because the president gets to grant one person the right to get first crack at forming a government. Over the next few days, President Reuven Rivlin will meet with all the party leaders and get their recommendations of whom he should appoint. Rivlin has said he will do all he can to make sure a government is formed and Israelis don’t have to go to a third election.

For more possible scenarios, and other details about how the elections work, read our elections guide here.

Netanyahu is someone American Jews are intimately familiar with (and harshly split over). But Gantz is less well-known. For more information about his life, read our profile of him here.

Aiden Pink is the deputy news editor of the Forward. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @aidenpink

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.