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Summary of Laws Related to Elections

Basic Law: The Knesset
Basic Law: The Knesset is the most fundamental governing basic law of the State of Israel, and Section 4 of the law establishes the principles that form the basis of the democratic electoral system: That the elections for the Knesset will be general, nationwide, direct, equal, secret, and proportional.
This section of the law can be amended only by a vote of an absolute majority of Knesset members (61). The basic law grants the right to vote and the conditions which need to be met, for all citizens aged 18 and over. It also grants the right to be elected and the conditions which need to be met, for all citizens aged 21 and over. An example of a "condition" is a citizen who was indicted for a crime and served more than three months in prison, must be at least 7 years after finishing his/her sentence when applying for candidacy on a list running for Knesset. Furthermore, the law provides a list of people serving in public positions who may not run for Knesset. This list includes the president, chief Rabbi, currently serving judge or rabbinic court judge, state comptroller, IDF chief of staff, Rabbi or other religious leader who receives a salary from the state, senior civil servants and IDF officers, all of whom may run for Knesset if they resign from their positions a certain amount of time before the elections as stated in the law. The law also invalidates any list of candidates which rejects Israel's right to exist as state for the Jewish nation, or rejects its democratic nature or incites racism or supports the armed struggle of enemy states or terrorist organizations against the state.

Knesset Elections Law (Consolidated Version) - 1969
The Knesset Elections Law deals with all of the organizational and legal aspects of the elections.
The law establishes the principles which determine the electoral regions, the locations of the polling stations, and the locations of the regional committees. On the administrative side of the elections is the Central Elections Committee whose task is to prepare the groundwork for the elections (for the candidates and for the voters), to carry out the elections, to count votes, and to publicize the results. Knesset parliamentary groups are represented on the Central Elections Committee, and its chairperson is a Supreme Court justice. Every list running for elections must be registered through the Central Elections Committee.

According to the law, participation in the elections may only happen within the borders of the State of Israel (including Jewish Settlements in Judea and Samaria). The only exceptions are Israeli citizens on registered Israeli naval vessels on which there are at least 14 Israeli sailors, or Israeli citizens residing abroad within a diplomatic, state-endorsed framework or working for the JNF, Keren Yesod, or the Jewish Agency.

Knesset Elections Law (Propaganda Methods) - 1959
The "propaganda law" deals with the limitations placed on the lists of candidates in terms of the propaganda they are allowed to publicize during the 90 days prior to elections. The limitations include all types of promotions, including advertisements. The law prohibits any use of public funds for promotional purposes. Among other limitations, the law prohibits any type of advertisement on the television or radio for 60 days before the elections EXCEPT for within the framework established by law specifically for that purpose. Specifically, advertisements on the television are publicized starting from 21 days before the elections and only at specified times.

Parties Law - 1992
The law defines a party as "a group of persons who joined together in order to promote in a legal way political or social objectives and to express them in the Knesset by their representatives." In order to form a party, the Party Registrar registers "one hundred persons or more who are adult citizens and residents of Israel." A party will not be registered if in one of its objectives or actions, explicitly or suggested, is one of the following:
  1. The rejection of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state.
  2. Incitement of racism.
  3. Support of the armed struggle of enemy states or terrorist organizations against the state of Israel.
  4. A reasonable basis to conclude that the party will be used for illegal activities.
A registered party is a corporation, it must follow specific rules of procedure and is required to have the following institutions: A central institution (usually a "Central Committee"), a body responsible for running party matters and implementation of decisions (usually a "bureau" or "secretariat"), and an institution that does internal auditing. A party cannot have economic businesslike activities. A party must administrate account books, balance sheets and financial reports.

Parties Financing Law - 1973
The Parties Financing law deals with the ongoing financing of the parties by the government and their special funding during elections. The law determines the criteria for government financing of parties and restricts party financing from other sources. The law determines the terms of loans and the sum of contributions that are allowed to be received. The law also determines who may contribute. For example, contributions given anonymously are illegal. As a general rule, the funding a party may receive is based on the current number of Knesset members it has in the Knesset, or on the number of Knesset members that were elected originally into the current Knesset.

Basic Law: The Government - 2001
The newest version of the Basic Law: The Government, which canceled the direct election of the prime minister starting from the elections to the Sixteenth Knesset, basically restored the electoral system to the way it was before the elections to the Fourteenth Knesset. According to the original (and newest) system, after the results of the elections are publicized, the president of the state takes counsel with all of the incoming parliamentary groups. Based on these discussions, the president then directs the job of forming a government to the new Knesset member with the likeliest chances of doing so. This basic law also deals with the procedure to follow if that MK is unable to form a government. Most of this basic law deals with issues that are not related to elections, such as forming a government, its functions, and ending its tenure.
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