The election, or voting, threshold, is the number of valid votes that a List must receive in order to procure a seat in the Knesset. This is the only limitation on a party which was allowed to run in the elections, and its purpose is to minimize the number of parties in the Knesset and ensure that any faction in the Knesset will have a certain minimum number of seats, as determined by law.
Until the 12th Knesset elections, the threshold was 1% of the vote. From the 13th elections, until the 16th, the threshold was raised to 1.5%, and then to 2%. After the 19th Knesset elections, the threshold was raised to 3.25%.
This is the logic that determines how to distribute the surplus votes to the lists after the distribution of "whole" Knesset seats. This method is known in the world as the Hagenbach-Bischoff (de-Hondt) method. It is based on the principle of the "list index."
The list index is determined by dividing the number of valid votes received by the list by the number of Knesset seats + 1. The list with the largest list index receives the surplus votes needed to reach an additional seat. The calculation is done again and again until the number of total seats reaches 120.
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.
The idea of direct elections means that the voter casts a ballot directly for a list running for the Knesset, and not for a proxy or intermediate body.
Double envelopes for ballots are used at special polling stations where citizens can vote without being registered there, such as in hospitals, the IDF, special accessible stations, and in polling stations abroad.
The envelope with the ballot is placed into a second envelope with the voter's ID number and address (to insure no double voting). The double envelopes are opened and counted in the Knesset in a way that protects the anonymity of the vote.
The idea of equitable elections means that each voter has one ballot. All voters are equal in their power to influence the election. Another aspect of equality is the obligation to ensure the equal opportunity of each list of candidates running for election.
Once a list of candidates is elected to the Knesset, it becomes a Parliamentary Group, even if the distinct parties in it continue to function individually on the outside. According to the Parties Financing Law (1973), the individual parties are eligible for financing according to the number of Knesset members representing them respectively.
The idea that elections are "general" means that any Israeli citizen over the age of 18 has the right to vote.
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.
The law does not recognize movements as distinct legal entities. However, a movement may register as a party, a non-profit organization, a company, or as any other legally recognized body. In other words, "movement" is simply a word also used as part of a name ("youth movement," "Herut Movement"), but by itself has no legal standing.
The idea that elections are "national" means that the State of Israel consists of one voting disctrict and all citizens vote for the same candidates.
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.
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: