Habayit Hayehudi overtakes Shas

After IDF and other special votes were counted, Naftali Bennett's party gained a twelfth seat, but he has still not been invited to meet Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Central Election Committee completed the vote count in the election for the 19th Knesset this morning. After the double-sealed votes from polling in the IDF, the prisons, the hospitals, and diplomatic missions were counted, it emerged that Habayit Hayehudi, led by Naftali Bennett, had won an additional Knesset seat, bringing its total tally to 12.

This morning, Bennett posted on his Facebook page that the soldiers' votes had put his party's number twelve candidate, Shuli Moalem, widow of Colonel Moshe Moalem, who was killed in the army helicopter disaster of 1997, into the Knesset. Moalem chairs the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization. Bennett pointed out that Habayit Hayehudi had overtaken Shas in the number of Knesset seats won.

The party that will apparently lose a seat is Arab list Ra'am-Ta'al, which was on five seats but will probably have to make do with four. Dr. Ahmad Tibi told IDF Radio (Galei Tzahal) this morning, "Another 1,000-2,000 votes would have ensured our fifth seat. Bennett would not have gained if people had not sat in cafes, gone out on picnics, or boycotted the election."

Kadima chair Shaul Mofaz received the joyful news this morning that after the vote count was complete his party had passed the minimum vote threshold, and he and Israel Hasson will continue to serve as members of Knesset. Netanyahu is thought likely to ask Kadima to join his government.

The various parties continue to gear up for coalition negotiations, which will begin officially next week after the parties submit to the president their recommendations for the person who should be asked to form a government.

So far, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu has contacted Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, the heads of Shas Eli Yishai, Aryeh Deri, and Ariel Atias, as well as United Torah Judaism leaders Yakov Litzman and Moshe Gafni, and agreed to meet them shortly. Bennett has not yet received an invitation to a meeting with Netanyahu. There is growing belief among politicians that although Lapid is putting equal sharing of the burdens of citizenship, meaning army service, at the top of his list of demands, the formula will be found that will enable Yesh Atid to sit together with haredi party Shas in the government.

Final election results for 19th Knesset in numbers of seats (18th Knesset seats in parentheses):

Likud-Beytenu 31, (42)
Yesh Atid 19 (-)
Labor 15, (13)
Habayit Hayehudi 12 (7)
Shas 11 (11)
Hatenuah 6 (-)
United Torah Judaism 7 (5)
Meretz 6 (3)
Hadash 4 (4)
National Democratic Assembly 3 (4)
Ra'am-Ta'al 4 (3)
Kadima 2 (28)

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 24, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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