The XX factor

Next Knesset to receive boost in female power

Record 27 women win seats in elections, nearly a quarter of new legislature

Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid poses with female members of his new political movement in November. (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid poses with female members of his new political movement in November. (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Tuesday’s elections to the 19th Knesset finished with a female flourish. Not only were women at the head of three of the parties that made it into the legislature, but Israelis voted in an unprecedented 27 women, an increase of six from the outgoing parliament, and nearly half of them new faces in the political landscape.

Whether that will mean we will also see more women seated around the Cabinet table depends largely on coalition talks, which have already tentatively begun but which will reach their horse-trading heights in February, after President Shimon Peres gives the party leaders the go-ahead once he returns from The World Economic Forum in Davos next week.

Nearly a quarter of the joint Likud-Beytenu’s 31 member list is female. Outgoing Immigration Absorption Minister Sofa Landver is the highest ranking woman, listed in 10th place. She is followed by Tzipi Hotovely (15), Orly Levy (16), Faina Kirshenbaum (19), Miri Regev (21), outgoing Sports and Culture Minister Limor Livnat (27), and Gila Gamliel (30). All of the women on the ruling party’s list are familiar faces in the Knesset halls.

Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, which won a surprising 19 seats in Tuesday’s elections, fielded eight women in those places. Since Lapid decided at the outset not to include any serving national-level politicians on his list, all the men and women on the list will be first-time MKs. Herzliya Mayor Yael German is the highest ranked woman on Yesh Atid’s list, in third place, and will likely be receiving a Cabinet portfolio. She is joined by senior Bar-Ilan lecturer Aliza Lavie (7), social activist Adi Kol (9), human rights lawyer Karin Elharar (10), educator Ruth Calderon (13), Penina Tamnu-Shata (14), Rina Frenkel (15), and Yifat Kariv (16).

Shelly Yachimovich’s Labor Party will install four women in the next Knesset, three of them first-time MKs. Aside from Yachimovich herself, Labor’s female legislators are journalist and feminist activist Merav Michaeli (4), social protest leader Stav Shaffir (8), who at 27 will be sworn in as the youngest Knesset member of all time, and former Yachimovich aide Michal Biran (13).

The national-religious Jewish Home party, led by first-time MK Naftali Bennett, will be introducing three women to the Knesset. Ranked fifth on the party list is Ayelet Shaked, whose photogenic face smiled out prominently from campaign posters across the country. In 10th place is Hebron resident and longtime settler activist Orit Strock. Shuli Muallem, an IDF widow, squeezed in at 12th place as the party’s last-minute gain after the soldiers’ votes were tallied.

Meretz, led by party chairman Zahava Gal-on, will field three women in the 19th Knesset in its six seats. Joining Gal-on will be political newcomers Michal Rozin (4) and Tamar Zandberg (6).

Hatnua leader and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni is the sole woman to make it in to the Knesset from her new party’s six seats.

Balad party’s controversial No. 2 Hanin Zoabi completes the list of women legislators voted in to the 19th Knesset.

Religious parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, which won 11 and seven seats respectively, as ever featured no women on their party lists.

Two-seat Kadima and Arab parties Hadash and Ra’am-Ta’al (four seats) are sending no women into the Knesset.

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