The deadline to submit party lists for the 2015 elections came to a close on Thursday night and these are the names and faces of prominent candidates heading 11 lists likely to pass the electoral threshold, which was raised from 2 percent to 3.25 percent early last year. These 11 parties, and many other smaller ones, will be vying for the votes of 5,881,696 eligible voters.
Some of the parties, mostly on the right side of the political map, made significant changes to their lists at the last moment, shortly before the deadline. Former soccer star Eli Ohana decided to quit Bayit Yehudi following backlash from within the party over his appointment, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to reserve the 11th spot on the Likud list to former minister Benny Begin, and Eli Yishai's Yachad - HaAm Itanu party merged with Baruch Marzel's Otzma Yehudit party.
The Central Elections Committee has yet to approve the lists of candidates; however, barring minor changes, if any, these are the parties expected to enter the Knesset, as well as the individuals on the top slots of each faction's list.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has maintained his position at the top of the Likud list. Gilad Erdan was placed on the faction's coveted second spot, as internal Likud drama ensued after several recounts showed different results as to which candidate would receive the 20th spot on the list. A final recount of votes resulted in Tzipi Hotovely winning the battle for the 20th spot, leaving Avi Dichter on spot 26. Several hours before the deadline for submitting Knesset slates, Netanyahu decided to reserve the 11th spot on the Likud list to former minister Benny Begin.
Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni head the joint Labor-Hatnua list dubbed the "Zionist Camp". Shelly Yachimovich secured the third spot on the list, and the following spots were filled by Stav Shaffir, Itzik Shmuly, Omer Bar-Lev, Merav Michaeli, Eitan Cabel and Mickey Rosenthal.
The new Labor list boasts an impressive representation of women - there are seven women in the top 25, four of which in the top 10. These are good news for the Israeli voters, as female MKs in the outgoing Knesset passed more laws than their male colleagues, even though their number in the legislator is fewer.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett remained chairman of Bayit Yehudi, followed by Tekuma faction leader Uri Ariel in the second spot and MK Ayelet Shaked, who received the highest number of votes in the primary elections, in third place.
After the faction united with Uri Ariel's Tekuma party, Tekuma candidates Orit Struck and Bezalel Smotrich secured spots in the top 15 places on the list. Former soccer star Eli Ohana was set to receive a high spot on the list, but after backlash emerged from within the party and party supporters on the internet, the former Beitar Jerusalem player announced he would not run in the elections.
Joint Arab party list
After the government passed a controversial governance law which saw the election threshold go up, Israel's three Arab parties decided to run together to maximize their respective power. The new united Arab party is comprised of Balad – a nationalistic party – Ra'am-Ta'al – a party with a religious Islamist orientation – and Hadash – a joint Jewish and Arab party with roots in Israel's communist party.
Aiman Uda heads the new list, while Ahmad Tibi was placed in fourth place and controversial MK Hanin Zoabi was positioned in the seventh slot. Dov Hanin, the only Jewish member to secure a realistic spot on the list, was placed eighth on the list.
The six first slots on the list presented by chairman Yair Lapid remained unchanged from the previous election, with five former ministers followed by Ofer Shelah. Behind Lapid in second place was Shai Piron, followed by Yael German, Meir Cohen, and Yaakov Peri. The only new additions to the Yesh Atid list had already been announced as Eshkol Regional Council chief Haim Yalin and MK Elazer Stern – formerly of Hatnua. Yalin was placed in the seventh spot and Stern slotted in 12th.
Former communications minister Moshe Kahlon, who founded the Kulanu party, holds the top spot on the list, followed by former IDF general Yoav Galant; in third is Eli Alalouf, the head of the Committee for the Fight Against Poverty; in fourth former Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren; and rounding up the first five is deputy Jerusalem mayor Rachel Azaria.
Avigdor Lieberman remained chairman of the party, while MK Orly Levy-Abekasis holds the second place on the list. Immigration and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver was placed in the third slot. Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat took fourth place, and journalist Sharon Gal was placed in the fifth spot on the list.
In the 2013 elections, Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef declared the party will be jointly led by Ariyeh Deri, Eli Yishai and Ariel Attias. The partnership was short-lived and Aryeh Deri was the only of the three to remain in Shas. Eli Yishai left the party and formed a new faction, while Ariel Atias resigned from the Knesset. Nisim Ze'ev, one of Shas's founders, was ousted from the party list, and Amnon Cohen announced his resignation. Both served in the Knesset for 16 years.
United Torah Judaism
The Ashkenazi, ultra-Orthodox party, which won a surprising seven Knesset seats in the last elections, is lead by Yaakov Litzman. The first seven candidates on the list are current members of the Knesset.
Zehava Gal-On maintained her position as head of Meretz, while MK Ilan Gilon won the primary elections, and was placed second on the list. The third spot on the list went to MK Issawi Frej. Meretz's list features a wide representation of women, as MKs Michal Rozin and Tamar Zandberg completed the top five. At number six is former MK Mossi Raz and the seventh spot went to a fresh face - Tel Aviv councilwoman Attorney Gaby Lasky.
Yachad - HaAm Itanu
A day after officially announcing his exit from the ultra-Orthodox party Shas, Eli Yishai founded a new party under the name "Yachad - HaAm Itanu". Yoni Chetboun, who announced in December he would not run with the Bayit Yehudi party in the upcoming elections, was placed in the second spot. The party recently reached an agreement to run as a united list with Otzma Yehudit in the upcoming elections.
Moran Azulay, Kobi Nachshoni, Itay Blumenthal, Hassan Shaalan, Roee Mendel and Shahar Hay contributed to this report.