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Copyright © 2019 The American Israel Public Affairs Committee

Israel’s Election Continues Tradition of Democracy

An Israeli Bedouin woman votes during general elections in the city of Rahat, April 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

On April 30, three weeks after the national election, Israel officially swore in its 21st Knesset, the Jewish state’s parliament. More than six million Israelis over the age of 18—from all races or religions—voted at more than 10,000 polling stations across the country in the elections on April 9.

On this day, Israel achieved a tremendous feat: Only 22 other nations have similarly conducted uninterrupted free and fair elections since 1949. Israel is an island of stability and democracy in a sea of chaos and authoritarianism.

Despite a contentious election season, the Knesset was chosen in accordance with the rule of law. Israel’s commitment to democracy is unique in the region and the world, demonstrating the robust nature of its governing institutions.

The strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship is rooted in both countries’ shared values and common interests. Regardless of the composition of the new government, which has yet to be determined, the U.S.-Israel relationship must remain strong and continue to transcend partisan politics, for the benefit of both nations.

Israel’s elections and the Knesset reflect the dynamic democratic processes and diversity in Israel.

  • Forty parties competed in the April election, representing the full spectrum of Israel’s diverse society

  • Roughly 70 percent of eligible Israeli voters turned out to vote, higher than most Israeli elections in the past 20 years and far higher than elections in the United States

  • The elections brought in 49 new members of Knesset (MKs)—the highest turnover in an election—who represent the diversity of Israeli society, coming from a wide range of religious, ethnic and socio-economic groups within the country.

  • There are 12 Israeli Arab and Israeli Druze MKs in the new Knesset, including members from Zionist, Arab nationalist and mixed Arab-Jewish parties. The new Knesset includes the first-ever female Druze member of Knesset, former news anchor Gadeer Mreeh of the Blue and White party.

  • The number of openly LGBTQ members of Knesset more than doubled in this election—to a total of five members—a historic achievement for Israel’s legislature.

  • Among the other notable entrances include the election of the second-ever Haredi woman in the Knesset, Omer Yankelevich of the Blue and White Party.

The U.S.-Israel alliance transcends the political parties that hold power in either country.

As the Middle East continues to undergo dramatic upheavals, Israel remains the one stable democracy and regional ally upon which America can consistently depend.

The U.S.-Israel relationship transcends politics and is based on a long-standing friendship and strategic partnership between Americans and Israelis. The two allies share a common bond and face common threats. Given these shared values and interests, the strong alliance between the United States and Israel will continue to thrive.

Type: Near-East-Report Near East Report