A final ballot count gives Netanyahu’s Likud party an bigger edge than previously predicted, leaving Bennett and Shaked out in the cold in the upcoming Israeli government.
By World Israel News Staff and AP
The official count of election ballots on Thursday granted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party an additional seat in parliament, making it the largest faction in the Knesset and punctuating the Israeli leader’s victory.
The final count showed that the New Right party of Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, falling just short of the necessary 3.25% of the votes needed to get into parliament.
The New Right, which fell just a few hundred votes short of entering parliament, said it would challenge the count.
Former MK and publicist Elyakim Haetzni, a New Right supporter, lamented Bennett’s and Shaked’s fate, commenting to Israel Hayom, “I don’t know any other ministers who achieved such real and measurable results as they did.”
“We’ll feel their absence especially if Netanyahu adopts the Trump peace plan, which some say is his own plan, and there isn’t enough power on the right to stop him. That power has to come from the Likud now. There are good people there, but I don’t know if they will have the courage,” added Haetzni.
Haetzni concluded, “The persecution and the fierce hate the left expressed about [Netanyahu] aroused a natural counter-reaction.”
The New Right had one of the most disappointing performances of the election. The pair of popular ministers split from their religious Jewish Home party and sought greater power by appealing to new secular voters. The maneuver backfired.
The results released by Israel’s central election commission showed Likud capturing a total of 36 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, compared to 35 seats for its main rival, the centrist Blue and White party. An earlier count had the two parties deadlocked.
Altogether, Likud and its traditional religious and nationalist allies command a 65-55 majority in parliament, putting Netanyahu in position to head the next coalition government. On Wednesday, Blue and White’s leaders conceded defeat.
Although the ballot count is complete, commission head Hanan Melzer said the results were not official and still subject to review. He said final certified results are to be handed to the country’s president next Wednesday.
The results presented late Thursday did not significantly alter earlier results from Tuesday’s election. They included a count of votes of soldiers, diplomats,
prisoners and hospital patients who vote in unusual circumstances.
The only shift was that Likud picked up one seat from one of its traditional allies, United Torah Judaism.