It’s a strangely little commented upon fact of many an informed article on Israeli politics that Israel as a state – almost uniquely – has no electoral constituencies. The entire country is treated as a single election unit on election night.
But let’s imagine it had electoral constituencies, parliamentary or congressional seats – call them what you will – Lets imagine Israel then divided the country up into 120 electoral constituencies – each constituency representing 1;120 of the population.
What would the constituency map of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) look like?
Well – we have drawn one for you – titled ‘An unsettling map of settler seats’
The settler population of the West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem, is now approaching 700,000 Israelis citizens. As citizens, those of 18 years and older are entitled to vote in Israeli national or Knesset elections.
In the 19th elections to the Knesset in 2015, these voters, then estimated to be 660,000 strong, would have determined the allocation of approximately 10 Knesset seats.
Photograph – Pisgat Ze’ev Settlement ‘North Jerusalem’ West Bank (Paul Kearns)
In our ‘An unsettling map of settler seats’ we map out these 10 electoral constituencies. In electoral constituency geography, seats are usually allocated according to population and not by voting population age. Each of our Knesset constituencies has on average approximately 67,000 Israeli residents. We then ‘apportioned’ a single party electoral winner by aggregating each party support across the various cities, towns, Jerusalem suburbs and isolated outposts in each constituency.
The party that secured a majority or plurality of the vote was deemed the winner of the seat.
Our 10 West Bank or Judea and Samaria constituencies, their major population centres and their respective winning party are listed below.
In the 2015 election the Likud Party would have won five seats, the Haredi United Torah Judaism (UTJ) would have won the Haredi cities of Modi’in Ilit, Beitar Illit and seats in (annexed) north and north-west Jerusalem.
Photograph – Beitar Illit Settlement West Bank (Paul Kearns)
Habayit Hayehudi – despite its settler image – would have actually won just a single a single seat – the geographically sprawling seat of Samaria-North-West Bank, which includes the settlements of Beit El, Geva Binyamin, Eli, Kedumin, Har Adar and Talmon amongst others.
The white areas on our map correspond to Areas A and B under the Oslo Peace Accords. These areas (including parts of Area C) are home to 2.7 million stateless Palestinians, living under Israeli control since 1967 but who are not entitled to vote in Israeli Knesset elections.
There is only one sovereign in control of all ‘Israel Palestine’ since 1967. That state is Israel. The Knesset is its democratically, and undeniably unrepresentative elected parliament.
If Israel had constituencies today – there really would be no other way to draw this electoral map without showing these fragmented disenfranchised non-voting Palestinian ‘reservations’.
Should however all of Israel and the West Bank have a vote in the Knesset (excluding the Gaza Strip), each 120 single-seat constituency would have a population of approximately 90,000 residents. In this electoral and democratic scenario, the West Bank would have around 33 seats in the Knesset. With 2.7 million Palestinians Jewish settlers (and their parties) would however probably win just 6 Knesset seats.
Photograph – East Jerusalem (Paul Kearns)
There are of course multiple way to draw 10 seats – our 10 seats in the Israeli Knesset in the West Bank were drawn as follows:
- ‘Alfe Menashe-Ariel’: Ariel 18,700 / Alfe Menashe 8,000 / Oranit 8,000 / Karnei Shomron 7,000 / Elkana 4,000 – Winner (Likud)
- ‘Modi’in Ilit’ 60,000 Winner (United Torah Judaism)
- ‘Samaria-Northern West Bank’: Givat Ze’ev 16,000 Beit El 6,000 / Geva Binyamin 5,000 / Eli 4,000 / Kedumin 4,000 / Har Adar 4,000 / Talmon 4,000 Winner (Habayit Hayehudi)
- ‘Ramot’ 50,000 Winner (United Torah Judaism)
- ‘Ramat Schlomo’: Ramat Schlomo 20,000 / South Pisgat Ze’ev 15,000 / Ramat Eshkol 6,800 / French Hill 6,600 Winner (United Torah Judaism)
- ‘Pisgat Ze’ev’: Pisgat Ze’ev 35,000 / Neve Yakov 24,000 Winner (Likud)
- Ma’ale Adumin: Ma’ale Adumin 40,000 / Kfar Adumin 4,000 Winner (Likud)
- ‘Gilo-Har Homa’: Gilo 40,000 / Har Homa 40,000 / Givat Hamatos 25,000 Winner (Likud)
- ‘Beitar Illit’: Beitar Illit 49,000/Part Gush Etzion 15,000 Winner (United Torah Judaism)
- ‘Judea South West Bank’: Part Gush Etzion (south Jerusalem) 40,000 / East Talpiot 15,000 / Kiryat Arba 7,000 (Winner Likud).