A voter drops ballots into the ballot box on election day in Jerusalem, February 27, 2024.


Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images

Short Take

Jerusalem’s Municipal Elections Produce a Council Dominated by Religious Jews; the City’s Palestinians Stay Home


The turnout in Jerusalem’s municipal elections this year was unusually low, and the final results show that the ultra-Orthodox and nationalist Jewish parties will control the council for the next five years.

Jerusalem voted in municipal elections on February 27, 2024. Due to Israel’s war on Gaza, the elections had been postponed twice from their originally scheduled date of October 30, 2023. Despite the postponements, the drawn-out war was still ongoing at the time the elections occurred, which likely was a key reason for the relatively low turnout. Only 31.5 percent1 of the 690,707 eligible voters2 participated. Anyone who had registered by the deadline (47 days before the originally scheduled elections) and was aged 17 by the originally scheduled Election Day was eligible to vote.3

The public was asked to elect two things: a mayor and a municipal council.

Results for Mayor

Mayor Moshe Lion, first elected in 2018, was reelected with 81.5 percent of the vote.4 He is strongly supported by the Haredi parties, notably Shas, which originally brought him into Jerusalem politics.5 His only challenger, Yossi Havilio, a more secular candidate, received 18.5 percent of the vote.6

According to Israeli law, Palestinian residents are not allowed to run for mayor, only Palestinian citizens are. Although earlier in the year a Palestinian citizen, Walid Abu Tayyeh, had put himself forward to run for mayor, he withdrew in light of the war on Gaza, leaving the field of mayoral candidates with only Israeli Jews.

No Palestinian has served as mayor of Jerusalem since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967; before that, no Palestinian had served as mayor of Jewish West Jerusalem since 1948 (see Representation).

Results for Municipal Council

Fifteen lists ran for the 30 seats on the municipal council (the 31st is for the mayor).7 The minimum number of votes needed to secure one seat was 7,500.8 Eleven of those parties won seats.

An empty polling station in a Palestinian neighborhood on election day in Jerusalem, February 27, 2024

This photo is from a polling station in the Palestinian neighborhood of Ras al-Amud, at a school, in East Jerusalem. It’s midday on election day, February 27, 2024, and the station is empty. Palestinian voters stayed home.


Mays Shkerat for Jerusalem Story

More significant than the individual parties are the blocs of parties that will make coalitions to work together and push their agendas ahead. In this regard, a bloc of religious Jewish parties won a clear majority of seats (16), as follows:9

Haredi Bloc

Party No. of Seats Won
Shas (Sephardic) 6
Agudat Yisrael (Hasidim) 3
Degel Hatorah (non-Hasidic, ultra-Orthodox-Lithuanian Haredim) 6
Bnei Torah (represents the Jerusalm (Yerushalmim) Faction, which is Ashkenazi, non-Hasidic Haredi) 1
Total 16


The share of the council seats the Haredi bloc received is quite disproportionate to their demographic share of the city, which is about 32 percent. Another 8 percent are ultra-Orthodox Jews who do not vote.10

Additionally, another bloc of nationalist right-wing extremist parties won a bloc of six seats as follows:

Nationalist Right-Wing Extremist Parties

Party No. of Seats Won
Likud 1
Noam Party (anti-LGBT) 1
Mafdal (Religion Zionist) 2
United Party (Ultranationalist Part of Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Arieh King) 2
Total 6


This bloc will likely work together with the Haredi bloc on issues over which they are aligned, giving them a solid majority of 22 seats together. A religious Jewish majority on the council means that the community will have control of key committees, such as planning and construction, finance, and education, and will move all those municipal decisions in the direction of meeting the needs of their own constituents.

A campaign poster for the Noam party in Jerusalem’s recent municipal election reads: “The time has come to awaken! First of all, Jewish!”

A campaign poster for the new “Jerusalem in Noam” party reads: “The time has come to awaken! First of all, Jewish!” This party is a far-right, Orthodox Jewish, religious Zionist party that advocates for “Jewish family values,” chiefly by opposing same-sex marriage, LBGT rights, and Reform Judaism.


Mays Shkerat for Jerusalem Story

On the other side of the spectrum, the so-called (in Israeli parlance) “non-extremist” (Zionist) secular and religious parties that were elected to the council include:

“Non-Extremist” Zionist Parties (Secular and Religious)

Party No. of Seats Won
Jerusalem Union (includes Meretz, Yesh Atid, Labor, New Contract) 4
Hitorerut (“Awakening”) 3
One Jerusalem (party of Mayor Lion) 2
Total 9


Grand Total Seats: 31

Israel’s Hebrew daily Haaretz called the municipal election results “a flashing warning light for Israel.” Referring to all local elections across the country, the paper’s editorial said:

The antidemocratic forces—the ultra-Orthodox parties, the religious Zionist garin torani groups, and the far-right, racist parties—organized in a few communities and scored gains that are disproportionate to the true size of the groups they represent. Conversely, the democratic camp, which for nearly a year turned out weekly for giant demonstrations on Tel Aviv's Kaplan Street and dozens of locations around the country, failed in most cases to translate the anger at the most useless and corrupt government in the country's history into electoral gains in local governments.11

If this is the overall trend, Jerusalem seems to be marching in lockstep—even leading the way.

Palestinians Jerusalemites Again Decline to Vote

The only list with Palestinian members, the Arab-Jewish list Kol Toshaveha headed by Palestinian citizen Sondos al-Hout, failed to win a single seat and received only a little over 2,000 votes, “most of which came from her Jewish supporters,”12 according to a short report in the Jerusalem Post. It’s not yet clear which neighborhoods those votes came from or what exact percentage of them was Palestinian versus Jewish.

It’s worth pointing out that the city had declined to set up any single polling station to serve the Palestinian neighborhoods beyond the Separation Wall, even though they are home to at least 150,000 Palestinians, an estimated one-third of all the Palestinians in the city (see Neighborhoods beyond the Wall). There was not even a polling station at the checkpoint. Since crossing the checkpoint these days can take hours, this effectively meant that one-third of the city’s Palestinians were not likely to even try, even had they been inclined to do so.

What is clear is that once again, the 40 percent (and likely higher)13 of Jerusalem who are Palestinians did not vote, and once again, they are left without any political representation (see Who Represents the Palestinians of Jerusalem?). Rather, they wholly reject participating in a political system that is so unfailingly designed to marginalize, exclude, and erase them.

Palestinians wait at Qalandiya checkpoint on May 17, 2019, on their way to pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem during Ramadan.
Feature Story After Months of War, Jerusalem’s Municipal Elections Leave Palestinian Residents Indifferent

When Jerusalem goes to the polls this week, Palestinians will likely stay home.



Sam Sokol, “In First, Ultra-Orthodox Parties Win Majority on Jerusalem City Council,” Times of Israel, February 29, 2024.


Peggy Cidor, “Jerusalem Elections Are Here: Who Will Run Jerusalem?Jerusalem Post, February 25, 2024.


Cidor, “Jerusalem Elections.”


Sokol, “In First.”


Shalom Yerushalmi, “The Mayor Is Certain to Win, But There Is a Lot More to the Vote in Jerusalem,” Times of Israel, February 26, 2024.


Sokol, “In First.”


Cidor, “Jerusalem Elections.”


Sokol, “In First.”


Sokol, “In First.”


Peggy Cidor, “What the Key Players Think of Jerusalem’s Municipal Elections,” Jerusalem Post, March 9, 2024.


Editorial, Haaretz, February 29, 2024.


Peggy Cidor, “This Week in Jerusalem: Complex Complaints—A Weekly Roundup of City Affairs,” Jerusalem Post, March 16, 2024.


While official Israeli statistics cite the figure of 39 percent for the year 2021, their data only include Palestinians who are in the Israeli Population Registry, which overlooks tens of thousands who live in the city and are unregistered or stateless. Omer Yaniv, Jerusalem: Facts and Trends 2023—The State of the City and Changing Trends (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research, 2023), 12.

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