Israel's New Government
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# of Seats 2013
# of Seats 2009
Israel’s New Government – An Overview
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced the successful formation of Israel’s 33rd government
in the 19th Knesset.
The following table shows the results of the elections, with a comparison to the results of the previous
elections in 2009:
New Government | TIP
The New Government - Basic Policy Guidelines
Following the coalition agreement, the Knesset holds a session with a formal vote of confidence at which
the prime minister presents the new government’s basic policy guidelines. The coalition agreements
signed between the parties contain a statement of basic principles that define the focus of the new gov-
ernment. This includes:
• Israel will strive for peace with the Palestinians in order to reach a political settlement to end the
conflict. If such agreement is reached, it will be authorized by the government and the Knesset, and if
required by law, a referendum. The government will promote peace with neighboring countries while
preserving the security, history and national interests of Israel.
• The government will fight against violence and terrorism.
• While preserving the Jewish character of the state and the heritage of Israel, the government will re-
spect the religions and traditions of minorities in Israel in accordance with the values in Israel’s Decla-
ration of Independence.
• Lower the price of housing and reduce the cost of living by various means including increasing free
• Top priority to education and higher education.
• Spread the obligation of military or civilian national service, so that all population groups take part.
• Promote economic conditions for sustainable growth, lower cost of living and create and maintain
• Strive for social justice by reducing social gaps and uncompromising struggle against poverty.
• Change the system of government in order to increase governance and government stability.
• Protect Israel’s environment
• Improve and adapt religious services to the different shades of the population.
Netanyahu signed more detailed agreements with each of his three coalition partners, and those agree-
ments specify specific policies that were agreed upon as legislative goals for the new government’s term
Strengthening national security, including the nuclear threat posed by Iran
Efforts to resume the peace process with the Palestinians
Steps to ensure the economy remains robust
Integrating Israel's Arab and Jewish ultra-Orthodox communities
into Israel's civic and military institutions
Tackling social justice, poverty, and inequality issues in Israeli society
The New Knesset
Members of the government (Total=68 seats):
• Likud-Beiteinu: 31 seats
• Yesh Atid: 19
• Bayit Hayehudi: 12
• The Movement: 6
Members of the opposition (Total=52 seats):
• Labor: 15 seats
• Shas: 11
• United Torah Judaism: 7
• Meretz: 6
• United Arab List: 4
• Hadash: 4
• National Democratic Assembly: 3
• Kadima: 2
The New Cabinet:
The following table shows the number of ministers and deputy ministers for each party:
Party Ministers Deputy Ministers
Likud 7 2
Yisrael Beiteinu 4
Yesh Atid 5 1
Bayit Hayehudi 4
Total 22 3
The significant changes from the previous government are include:
• Reduction in cabinet members from 30 to 22
• Four female ministers, the highest number of women in the cabinet ever in Israel
• Three deputy ministers were also appointed: Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) –Welfare, Danny Danon (Likud)
–Defense and Zeev Elkin (Likud) –Foreign Affairs.
New Government | TIP
The Cabinet Positions
Portfolio (key responsibilities) Minister Party
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Likud
Foreign Affairs Benjamin Netanyahu Likud
Finance Yair Lapid Yesh Atid
Defense Moshe Ya’alon Likud
Health Yael German Yesh Atid
Housing and Construction Uri Ariel Habayit Hayehudi
Economy and Trade Naftali Bennett Habayit Hayehudi
Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch Yisrael Beiteinu
Transport, National Infrastructure Yisrael Katz Likud
Regional Development, Water and Energy Silvan Shalom Likud
Science and Technology Yaakov Perry Yesh Atid
Tourism Uzi Landau Likud Beiteinu
International Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz Likud
Justice Tzipi Livni The Movement
Internal Affairs Gideon Saar Likud
Agriculture Yair Shamir Likud Beiteinu
Communications and Home Front Defense Gilad Erdan Likud
Culture and Sport Limor Livnat Likud
Education Shai Piron Yesh Atid
Environmental Protection Amir Peretz The Movement
Pensioner Affairs Uri Orbach Habayit Hayehudi
Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver Yisrael Beiteinu
Religious Affairs Eli Ben Dahan Habayit Hayehudi
Welfare and Social Services Meir Cohen Yesh Atid
The Parties and Their Leaders
Likud – Seen as nationalistic, Likud predominantly associated with the
center-right, and is supported by both blue and white collar, as well as
secular and traditional Jews.
Before becoming prime minister in 2009, Netanyahu, a graduate of MIT,
served as an army commander and was previously prime minister from
1996–99. He is known for his economic free-market policies and his 2009
Bar Ilan speech supporting the two-state solution.
Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) – Representing immigrants from the
former Soviet Union, the party serves as the country’s nationalist, secular
right-wing voice. The party supports a two-state solution, but wants to
give Arab populated areas of Israel in return for Jewish settlement blocks
in the West Bank. At the start of this election campaign, Yisrael Beiteinu
and Likud merged their lists of election candidates, but maintained sepa-
rate parties and policies.
Yesh Atid (There is a Future) –This new, secular center-left, party focuses
on the disenfranchised middle and working class and the separation of
religion and state. The party emerged as the biggest winner in the elec-
tions, gaining 19 seats in its first elections.
Political newcomer Yair Lapid is a popular former journalist and television
talk show host. The son of the late Yosef (Tommy) Lapid, whose (now de-
funct) Shinui Party was elected on an anti-religious platform.
Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) – Originally known as the National
Religious Party, Habayit Hyehudi is one of Israel’s oldest political forces,
representing modern-orthodox Jews, with a focus on education, religious
values and the historic Land of Israel.
Behind the scenes, former hi-tech success and new party leader Naftali
Bennett acted as a broker in the negotiations that brought about the new
Hatnuah (The Movement) – Formed last in this election campaign, Hat-
nuah is Israel’s newest centrist party. The party is headed by former Kad-
ima leader Tzipi Livni, who previously served as foreign minister in the
Ehud Olmert’s government. In 2012, Livni a strong supporter of the peace
process with the Palestinians, lost the Kadima leadership to Shaul Mofaz.
New Government | TIP
Short Personal Profiles of the Ministers
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Likud
Born in Israel in 1949, Benjamin Netanyahu has been chairman of Likud
since 2005. He previously served as prime minister from 1996-1999, and
again in the 18th Knesset (2009-2013).
Before being elected to the Knesset in 1988, Netanyahu served as Isra-
el’s ambassador to the U.N. He has been an MK in all parliaments since
1988 and headed the ministries of justice, finance, science, religious
affairs and housing. As finance minister (2003-2005), he famously liberal-
ized the market and passed banking reforms.
When first becoming prime minister in 1996, Netanyahu formed the14th
Knesset government. After losing the election to Ehud Barak in 1999,
Netanyahu left politics for a few years, but joined Ariel Sharon’s govern-
ment in 2002 as foreign minister.
Netanyahu formed the coalition after the 2009 elections, making him
the prime minister of the 18th Knesset, despite Likud having won fewer
seats than Kadima.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Likud
Drafted into the Israeli Defense Forces in 1968, Moshe Ya’alon fought as
a reserve paratrooper during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, taking part in the
battle for the Suez Canal. He went through several promotions before
being named lieutenant general in 2000 and served as the 17th IDF
chief-of-staff until June 1, 2005. In February 2009, he was elected to the
18th Knesset on the Likud list. In March 2009, he was appointed vice
prime minister and minister of strategic affairs.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Yesh Atid
Yair Lapid is a popular former journalist, editor and television talk show
host who joined the political realm in 2012 as leader of Yesh Atid.
Lapid started his journalism career at the daily newspaper Maariv and as
a military correspondent for the IDF’s weekly magazine, later writing for
Yediot Aharonot. Following a successful writing career, Lapid joined the
world of broadcast journalism and in 1994 began hosting a prime-time
interview program on Channel 1 on Friday nights. From 1999, he hosted
a news talk show on Channel 2, and decided to leave journalism in 2012
to pursue a political career.
Minister of Economy and Trade Naftali Bennett, Habayit Hayehudi
Naftali Bennett was a hi-tech success and in 2005, he sold his internet
security company, Sayota, for $145 million. In the ‘90’s, Bennett served
as Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief- of- staff and helped draft Israel’s educa-
tion reform program.
Three years ago, he took charge of the Yesha Council, Israel’s official
representative body of the West Bank settlements. Simultaneously, he
established My Israel – an organization dedicated to fighting attempts to
delegitimize Israel. New to national party politics, he became the leader
of the Jewish Home in 2012.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Hatnuah
Tzipi Livni began her public service as the director of the Government
Companies Authority during Netanyahu’s first term in office. She was
elected to the Knesset on the Likud slate in 1999 and became a govern-
ment minister under Ariel Sharon in 2001. In the Likud government, she
served as minister of regional cooperation, agriculture, immigrant ab-
sorption, housing and justice.
Livni was one of the founders of the Kadima party, headed initially by
Ariel Sharon, then by Ehud Olmert and subsequently by Livni herself.
She served as foreign minister in the Kadima government and under her
leadership, the party, in the 2009 general election, became the largest
party in Israeli political history.
After being defeated by Shaul Mofaz in Kadima’s 2012 primary, Livni an-
nounced the formation of the Hatnuah party in time for the 2013 election
Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Likud
Gideon Sa’ar was the education minister in the outgoing Knesset and a
Likud lawmaker. A lawyer and journalist by profession, he started his ca-
reer in media, and was one of the founders of the Channel 2 News Com-
pany. In 1999, he was appointed cabinet secretary in the first Netanyahu
government and again in 2001 in the first Sharon government.
Minister of Education, Shai Piron, Yesh Atid
Shai Piron is the rabbi of Oranit where he lives and the head of a Talmu-
dical college in Petach Tikva. He is the CEO of “Hakol L’Chinuch” which
works to improve state education. Rabbi Piron helped found the all-em-
bracing rabbinical organization Tzohar and runs numerous projects to
foster harmony between the religious and secular.
Piron is member of several lobbies in the 19th Knesset, including Lobby
for the Advancement of Teenagers in the Periphery, Lobby for the War
Against Racism and Discrimination and Chair of the Lobby for the Inte-
gration of Disabled Children in the School System.
Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz, Likud
Yisrael Katz has been a member of the Knesset for the Likud since 1998.
Over the years, he has served as a member of various Knesset commit-
tees, including the committees of Foreign Affairs & Security Committee
and Finance. He was agriculture minister from 2003-2006, and has been
the Minister of Transport, National Infrastructures & Road Safety since
New Government | TIP
Minister of Health Yael German, Yesh Atid
Yael German served two terms as the mayor of Herzliya for the Meretz
party before joining Yesh Atid and winning her Knesset seat. Known for
her dedication to the quality of life of her constituents, she led the battle
against cellular antennas in residential areas, spearheaded massive
citywide development, and fostered harmony among the city’s various
Interior Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Yisrael Beiteinu
Before entering the political fray, Yitzhak Aharonovitch was the head of
the border police force and then the Israel Police Force. A member of
the security cabinet in the last Knesset, he served as internal security
minister, with responsibility for public order and overseeing the police
Minister of Housing and Construction Uri Ariel, Habayit Hayehudi
From 1989-1999 Uri served as the CEO of the settler’s representative
body Yesha Council. During the period of the Oslo Accords, Ariel man-
aged to expand the settlements despite the lack of government support.
Before entering the Knesset he was also mayor of the West Bank town,
Minister of Regional Development, Water and Energy, Silvan Sha-
Silvan Shalom served in the previous government as deputy prime min-
ister, minister for Negev & Galilee development and minister for regional
Earlier in his career, he worked as a journalist for Yediot Aharonot and
Hadashot, and served as an adviser to the ministers of finance and
chaired Israel Electric Corporation from 1990-1992.
Minister of International Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Yuval
Yuval Steinitz entered politics in 1999 serving in the 15th Knesset on
the Likud list. In the 16th Knesset, Steinitz served as chairman of the
Foreign Affairs and Defense committee, chairman of the Subcommittee
for Intelligence and Secret Services, and chairman of the Joint Security
Committee for the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. In both the
16th and 17th Knesset, he served as the chairman of the Joint Security
Committee Between the Knesset and the U.S. Congress. In the 18th
Knesset, he served as Israel’s finance minister.
Minister of Environmental Protection, Amir Peretz, Hatnuah
Amir Peretz was previously minister of defense and deputy prime min-
ister as a member of the Labor Party. Peretz left Labor for Tzipi Livni’s
Hatnuah Party and his tenure in the 19th Knesset is his 8th time serving
as an MK. Peretz is a former head of the Histadrut trade union federa-
Minister of Culture and Sport, Limor Livnat, Likud
A public relations professional in her early working career, Limor Livnat
has been a parliamentarian for some 23 years. Her various roles have in-
cluded minister of education, communications and latterly of culture and
sport. She also chaired the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of
Minister of Pensioner Affairs, Uri Orbach, Habayit Hayehudi
Journalist, author, columnist and satirist, Uri Orbach entered the Knesset
with Habayit Hayehudi during the 2009 elections. In the last Knesset, he
headed the caucus promoting harmony between secular and religious
Israelis. He also launched the Feel at Home project to open the doors of
synagogues to secular Jews.
Minister of Immigration Sofa Landver, Yisrael Beiteinu
Sofa Landver has been an MK since 1996. She was initially a member of
Labor. Prior to the 2006 elections, Landver joined Yisrael Beiteinu, and
served as minister of immigrant absorption in the 18th Knesset.
Landver has served on several Knesset committees including labor and
welfare, finance, education and the Advancement of the Status of
Tourism Minister, Uzi Landau, Yisrael Beiteinu
Veteran politician Uzi Landau, 70, was first elected to the Knesset in
1984 on the Likud Party list. A former officer in the paratroops, he has
a PhD in engineering from MIT and in his career so far has served in
several key cabinet posts including internal security and national infra-
Landau objected to Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and
resigned his cabinet post in 2004. After losing his seat when Likud was
trounced in the 2006 elections, he joined Yisrael Beiteinu in 2008 and
was put in the number two position in the party list – a move by party
leader Lieberman to boost his profile and show voters that Yisrael Beit-
einu was not just focused on immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
Minister of Communications and Minister of Homeland Security
Gilad Erdan, Likud
Gilad Erdan served as environmental protection minister in the previous
government. A captain in the IDF reserves, he received a law degree
from Bar Ilan University, where he first came to political prominence
when he led student protests against the Oslo Accords. Before he was
elected to the Knesset in 2003, Erdan was an adviser to Ariel Sharon.
Minister of Agriculture, Yair Shamir, Yisrael Beiteinu
The son of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Yair Shamir also
boasts a decorated military career, having served as a pilot, engineer,
and commander in the Israel Air Force. An active member of the board
of the IDC Herzliya college in its founding stage, he also sits on the
board of the Technion and Ben-Gurion University.
He was also the chair of Israel Aerospace Industries and El Al Israel
New Government | TIP
Minister of Social Services, Meir Cohen, Yisrael Beiteinu
Meir Cohen was the mayor of Dimona for the Yisrael Beiteinu party.
During his tenure, numerous factories opened, the city’s first mall was
built and unemployment dropped. He built cultural and youth centers,
and led the efforts to lower the price of water.
Minister of Science, Yaakov Perry, Yesh Atid
Yaakov (Jacob) Perry was the chairman of United Mizrachi Bank and of
Lipman Engineering (NASDAQ: LPMA). Throughout his career, Perry has
held senior positions in the intelligence community, heading the General
Security Services (Shin Bet). In 1995 Mr. Perry joined the business sec-
tor with his appointment as President and CEO of Cellcom Israel Ltd.,
Israel’s largest wireless telephone service provider.
Labor – Labor is Israel’s major left-wing, socially-democratic party and is associated with the nation-
al trade union, Histadrut. Previously headed by both the late Yitzhak Rabin and current Israeli President
Shimon Peres, Labor is known for signing the Oslo Accords with Yasser Arafat and the P.L.O. Wracked by
internal dissent and splintering over the past decade, Labor has recently regained stability and some pop-
ularity after quitting Netanyahu’s coalition government in January 2011.
Party leader Shelly Yachimovich is a well-known former journalist and radio talk-show host and entered the
Knesset in 2006. Yachimovich is seen as returning Labor’s focus to social and economic issues rather than
solely on the peace process.
Kadima (Forward) – After breaking off from Likud, former prime minister Ariel Sharon formed the centrist
party in 2005 with members from both Likud and Labor. Following the 2009 elections, under former leader
Tzipi Livni, Kadima became the main opposition party. It is known for withdrawing all Israeli settlements
from Gaza in 2005.
Born in Iran, party leader Shaul Mofaz is a former IDF chief-of-staff and served as defense minister in the
Kadima government headed by Sharon. He became head of the party in March 2012 after defeating Tzipi
Livni, but the party was almost wiped out in the elections, maintaining only two seats.
Shas – Israel’s ultra-orthodox religious party affiliated with Middle-Eastern Sephardic Jewry, has consis-
tently been a coalition partner in both left- and right-wing governments. Shas’ major focus is support for
its religious educational institutions and laws affecting religious issues. They also receive support from
non-religious Sephardic Jews.
Shas takes its guidance from a council of rabbis headed by former chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef. The political
leadership is divided between popular former Shas parliamentary leader Arye Deri, current leader Eli Yishai
and Housing Minister Ariel Atias. Yishai is also a veteran politician who is viewed as the non-charismatic
leader of a party guided by religious precepts. He maintains interest in the national budget and funding
for its religious education network. All three leaders take their guidance from Yosef, but party leadership in
opposition is still unclear.
Balad – Led by Jamal Zahalka, Balad was founded in 1995, and is a left-of-center, anti-Zionist party that
promotes Arab nationalism. With three seats in the current Knesset, Balad MK Hanin Zoabi came under
intense media attention after she joined activists on board the Mavi Marmara in 2009, illegally sailing to
Gaza. Subsequently, Israel’s Central Election Committee barred Zoabi from running in the 2013 elections.
The MK appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which overturned the decision and reaffirmed her
candidacy for the Knesset. Balad ideology includes a demand to recognize Israel’s Arabs as a national mi-
nority and pushing for laws to ensure the implementation of collective rights of the Arab minority in Israel.
Hadash – Hadash is a politically and socially left-leaning secular Jewish-Arab party based on a just peace
with the Palestinians, workers rights and Arab rights. In the last elections Hadash received four seats and
was the leading political force representing the Arab population. Hadash fosters cooperation between
Jews and Arabs as well as promoting peace and equality, and the rights of women, minorities and work-
ers. Headed by Mohammad Barakeh, its party platform includes the establishment of a Palestinian state
with its capital in east Jerusalem, alongside the State of Israel.
Meretz – Meretz (“energy”) is a left-wing, Zionist party, promoting the expansion of the welfare state and
peace through a two-state solution via the withdrawal of Israel from the West Bank. Led by Zahava Gal-
On, Meretz was founded in 1992 as an alliance between three left wing parties Mapam, Ratz and Shinui.
Meretz policy says that in order to revive the peace process, Israel must de facto recognize a Palestinian
state and replace the Oslo Accords with a comprehensive new agreement as a basis for the relations be-
tween the two governments. The party also calls for a fundamental change in financial priorities to empha-
size social rights and the redistribution of the state’s resources
Ra’am-Ta’al – Ra’am (United Arab List) is headed by MK Ibrahim Sarsour and Ta’al (Arab Movement for
Renewal) is led by MK Ahmad Tibi. While Arabs comprise roughly 20 percent of the population in Isra-
el, they have never met their potential to garner one fifth of the seats in the 120-member Knesset, which
could theoretically make them the official opposition. The unification of Ra’am-Ta’al was one step in that
direction with the two parties fielding a joint list of candidates, while maintaining separate political agen-
das. The slate supports the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, but has a long agenda of
local issues including fighting discrimination, investment in the Arab sector, increased use of Arabic lan-
guage and liberalization of the Islamic Waqf (religious trust) in Israel.
New Government | TIP
Israel Labor Party (15)
Binyamin (Fouad) Ben-Eliezer
Habayit Hayehudi (12)
Uri Yehuda Ariel
United Torah Judaism (7)
Menachem Eliezer Moses
Talab Abu Arar
National Democratic Assembly
The 120 Members of the 19th Knesset (listed alphabetically by surname)
Likud Yisrael Beiteinu (31)
Moshe Zalman Feiglin
Yesh Atid (19)