A Netanyahu-led government would see sharp drop in women in coalition

Current results project 9 female MKs in parties that back the former prime minister, with none among the ultra-Orthodox factions

Religious Zionism lawmakers celebrate at the far-right party's campaign headquarters after the release of exit polls, November 1, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
Religious Zionism lawmakers celebrate at the far-right party's campaign headquarters after the release of exit polls, November 1, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Female representation is on track to fall in the next Knesset if results from Tuesday’s election hold, and the number of women in the coalition that former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to assemble will also see a marked drop.

As of Wednesday evening, 88.7% of ballots had been tallied, with Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc on track to receive a clear majority with 65 seats in the 120-member Knesset.

Factions in the outgoing coalition led by Prime Minister Yair Lapid were to get 50 seats between them, while the remaining five parliamentary seats will go to the predominantly Arab Hadash-Ta’al party.

Based on these results, the likely Netanyahu-led coalition will have nine female MKs — six in his Likud party and three from the far-right Religious Zionism, though the figure could end up rising through ministerial appointments.

Neither the ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties, which are also partnered with Netanyahu, will have any female parliamentarians.

It is not known how many female ministers there will be.

Shas supporters celebrate after exit polls showed the ultra-Orthodox party winning seats, in Tel Aviv, November 1, 2022. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

The outgoing government has a combined 30 female MKs and ministers. Current results project 19 female MKs will remain in the parties of the outgoing government.

Overall, 29 women are set to be sworn into the next Knesset later this month, down from 35 currently.

The drop is due in part to the failure of two parties led by prominent female politicians to clear the minimum vote threshold — Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked’s Jewish Home and Zehava Galon’s left-wing Meretz.

Ayelet Shaked, Interior Minister and head of the Jewish Home party, speaks during a press conference in Ramat Gan, October 25, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The next Knesset is also expected to have a record 47 members who are religiously observant Jews, according to a tally by the national-religious Srugim news site, accounting for more than a third of the parliament’s 120 seats.

The majority of them belong to parties that make up Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc, which includes the far-right Religious Zionism and a pair of ultra-Orthodox factions, but some are members of more centrist and left-leaning factions.

Most of these lawmakers are Orthodox of various stripes, while Labor MK Gilad Kariv is a Reform rabbi.

Additionally, for the first time in more than 30 years, the new Knesset might not have any representation from the Druze community.

Meretz has MK Ali Salalha at number 4 on its electoral slate, but the left-wing party is currently just short of crossing the electoral threshold.

In Yisrael Beytenu, Minister Hamad Amar is number six on the list, but the right-wing secularist party is currently set to win five seats.

Likud has Abed Afif at number 44 and National Unity has Akram Hasson at number 16, both far from realistic positions.

Besides Salalha, the other Druze MK in the outgoing Knesset is Likud’s Fateen Mulla, who is 65th on the right-wing party’s list.

Yisrael Beytenu Minister Hamad Amar speaks during a Knesset plenum session on June 20, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The first Druze member of Knesset was elected in 1951 and the minority community has been represented in parliament for most of Israel’s history, with a high of six MKs recorded in 2012.

The Druze in Israel — who serve in the military and regularly hold high-ranking public posts — number approximately 149,000, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, accounting for 1.5 percent of the total population of nearly 9.6 million.

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