by Emily Manuel
Contributor, Eagle News
(Eagle News) – Israel ambassador to the Philippines Rafael Harpaz cast his vote at the Embassy of Israel last March 28, 2019 in the run up to the 2019 parliament (Knesset) elections in Israel on April 9, 2019.
The Knesset elections is an important exercise of democracy for Israelis. It’s held once every four years and allows all Israeli citizens aged 18 years old and above to vote. This will be the 21st election in Israel’s 71 years as a state.
According to the ambassador, Israel voter turnout is 72%, the highest in the world. He adds, “all of us here at the embassy, we’re excited. It’s a very big day for us. I can’t see myself missing these elections. We’re a parliamentary democracy, we have a culture of debate. We have a history of government and opposition. This is who we are and I’m happy that we are that.”
This year, a record number of 47 parties are vying for 120 seats in the Knesset. The seats will be assigned in proportion to each party’s percentage of the total national vote, with a minimum threshold of 3.25%.
After the elections, the President assigns the task of forming a government to a Knesset member, who is usually the leader of the largest party or the head of a coalition of 61 members. The chosen Knesset member has up to 42 days to form the new government.
The proposed government is installed when at least 61 of the 120 Knesset members express their confidence. The chosen Knesset member will also become the prime minister.
So far, no single party has won 61 seats and every Israel government to date has been based on a coalition of several parties.
The outcome will decide the country’s direction in national security, economics, health, and infrastructure, among others.
-Bilateral relations with the Philippines-
The ambassador reported that there are currently 30,000 Filipinos in Israel. Many are caring for the elderly and people with disability. Recently, an agreement was signed between Israel and the Philippines to improve these workers’ conditions.
The ambassador also mentioned that the opening direct flights between Manila and Tel Aviv is expected to boost tourism between the two nations.
Israel has also provided educational grants to 1,000 Filipinos and has helped the Philippines in the wake of typhoon Yolanda.