The People’s Right To Have Their Say in Elections After an Unprecedented National Calamity

>> Read the full position paper in pdf

The people have a basic right to choose their leadership after the national calamity of 7 October. Zulat’s position paper clarifies why bringing the elections forward is justified, essential, and possible.

The gist of Zulat’s position is that the elections should be brought forward, precisely because of the cataclysmic trauma that has been rocking Israeli society ever since. With a prolonged national crisis under way, it is imperative that the people should be heard out on their choice of leadership to rebuild Israeli society and the country at large. The current government does not enjoy the people’s trust, and putting off elections hinders the citizens’ right to influence national priorities the day after.

Following are the main arguments cited in the paper:

  • Importance of basic right to vote in democratic elections: Rule by the people is a basic premise of democracy, whereby the people choose their leaders and empower them to govern on their behalf and for their benefit. Free elections are the main mechanism at the people’s disposal to show their confidence in the leadership and to express their choice on how the country should be run.
  • Need of a decision by the people after a national crisis: The shocking events of 7 October have led all segments of Israeli society to realize unequivocally that what was is not what will be. The gap between the questions that Israeli society is called upon to deal with at this time and the issues that the November 2022 elections dealt with and the resulting leadership justifies advancing the elections to the earliest possible date.
  • Decisive impact on Israel’s future of the issues set before the leadership: The justification for bringing the elections forward is amplified by the fact that decisions made now are expected to have a long-term impact on Israel’s future. Therefore, it is imperative to go back to the Israeli people, introduce them to the various positions on the issues on the agenda, and allow them to express their choice by means of Knesset elections.
  • Precedents for holding elections during a crisis: The calamity of 7 October is unprecedented. Nevertheless, there have been quite a few cases in the past when Israel held elections during war or an emergency crisis. The paper includes several examples of elections being held or even brought forward during such times. 

    Insufficient justifications not to bring the elections forward: The arguments against calling an election are insufficient when weighed against their importance. For example, while the budgetary and economic costs of elections are significant, they are low compared to the economic ramifications of war; the limitations on the functioning of the transitional government are not dramatic and should be adopted anyway, guided by the principle that major policy decisions should be made after the leadership regains the people’s confidence; bringing the elections forward might indeed exacerbate the political polarization, yet such an exacerbation largely depends on the behavior of the political leadership, and what is more, Knesset elections are the main democratic mechanism for addressing such disagreements; advancing the elections might increase the politicization of government policy, but already now there is more than enough evidence of such politicization by the government.

In conclusion, Zulat‘s position is that the Knesset ought to announce its dispersal already now, with as broad a consensus as possible, elected officials thus assuming true responsibility for the debacle of 7 October. Choosing a leadership is a fundamental democratic right, whose realization is even more crucial after an unprecedented national calamity. To regain the people’s trust, elected officials must recognize that they and the policies they seek to promote need to undergo renewed scrutiny by the people.


Dr. Maha Sabbah Karkabi


Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Tel Aviv University (2015), a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Gender Studies, SOAS, University of London (2015-2016), a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Sociology at Tel Aviv University (2016-2017), and a postdoctoral fellowship Ph.D. at the Humphrey Institute for Social Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2018-2020).
Dr. Maha Karbahi’s areas of interest focus on the connection between social change, family behavior, and gender inequality in societies in the process of change and specifically in Palestinian Arab society in Israel. Her research draws attention to the study of family life and employment, using a combined “ethnic lens” and “gender lens” and paying attention to the perspective of Palestinian Arab women, a group characterized by intersections between multiple marginal locations, which over the years has remained hidden from the research eye. Dr. Karkabi-Sabah’s research is published in professional journals and chapters in scientific books that are considered pioneers in family research, work, and gender equality.


Prof. Frances Raday

Professor Emeritus in the Lieberman Chair in Labor Law, in the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University and serves as a full professor in the College of Management’s academic track, where she also serves as chair of the graduate program and as honorary president of the Concord Center for International Law Absorption. Radai was a member of a working group of the UN Human Rights Council on discrimination against women. In addition, she is a prominent and feminist human rights activist.


Dr. Rawia Aburabia 

Faculty member of Sapir Academic College’s School of Law, received her PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research deals with the interface between law, gender, minorities, and human rights. Has published in leading journals on the subject of the matrimonial laws pertaining to Muslim women in Israel. Her book Under the Law, Outside Justice: Polygamy, Gendered Citizenship, and Colonialism in Israeli Law is expected to be published as part of the Gender Series of Kibbutz Meuhad Publishing House.

Dr. Aburabia has extensive experience in international human rights and public law. She has worked as a jurist for the Association for Civil Right and has been invited as a specialist to address such international forums as the United Nations and the European Parliament on the subject of indigenous communities and minority rights. She has interned with Human Rights Watch in Washington DC, and has been a member of the executive board of Amnesty International. In 2018, she was selected by the magazine Globes as one of the 40 most promising young persons in Israel under the age of 40.



Ron Kessler

With over two decades of experience in the field of digital content, Ron has participated in numerous political and social campaigns. He helped run the digital activity of senior public officials, and worked in various NGOs. Ron is a fundamentally optimistic man, who believes that Israel can be changed and so can people. Lives in Tel Aviv.