The picture that emerged from the exit polls and early results of Israel’s general election could prove false. Sitting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed on course for a Knesset majority, on the assumption that Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party would join his right-wing and haredi block, but this depended on Islamic party Ra’am failing to pass the minimum threshold of 3.25% of total votes cast. With 89% of the votes now counted, Ra’am is currently just above the threshold. If this remains the case, the Netanyahu block plus Yamina will have 59 seats in the Knesset and the other parties 61.

In any case, Bennett has not so far committed himself, saying only, “We will do what is good for all Israel’s citizens.”

The up-to-date distribution of seats is Likud 30, Yesh Atid 18, Shas 9, Blue & White 8, United Torah Judaism, Yamina and Labor 7 each, the Joint Arab List, the Religious Zionist Party, New Hope, and Yisrael Beitenu 6 each, and Meretz and Ra’am 5 each.

Central Elections Committee head Orly Adas said this morning that vote counting of regular ballots would be completed this afternoon. The count of special ballots, including ballots at army bases, is not expected to be complete until Friday morning.  Until these votes are counted, and until Ra’am’s fate is known for sure, the election outcome cannot be determined. Surplus vote agreements between the parties will also affect the final result. Another factor could be that several ballot boxes from Tel Aviv remain to be counted, and these votes are likely to benefit the centrist and left-wing parties.

Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on March 24, 2021

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2021

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