Haaretz Weekly Ep. 41
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party won 32 Knesset seats in last week's election, official results released Tuesday overnight by Israel's Central Election Committee show, taking it up a seat compared to results released so far.
Netanyahu's party, however, is still one seat behind Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan, which maintains 33 out of 120 Knesset seats, as the two parties are in talks over a potential power-sharing deal in a national unity government.
Likud's gain, after launching a "thorough investigation" into suspected voter fraud at polling stations, was at the expense of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, which has been reduced from eight to seven seats.
The amended results are to be formally submitted with President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday, ahead of his decision on who will be tasked with forming the next governing coalition.
However, the results don't change the number of recommendations each candidate for prime minister received, with Netanyahu at 55 and Gantz at 54.
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It seems likely that Rivlin will task Netanyahu with forming a government after saying Tuesday he would would delay his decision on the matter until next Wednesday. However, following a meeting between both Netanyahu and Gantz as well as their respective negotiation teams, it seems more likely that Rivlin will stop trying to mediate and task Netanyahu with forming a coalition.
Apart from Likud's 32 lawmakers, Netanyahu has the backing of Shas's nine lawmakers, United Torah Judaism's seven and Yamina's seven. Gantz has been endorsed by Kahol Lavan's 33 lawmakers, put together with 10 out of 13 Joint List lawmakers, Labor-Gesher's six and the Democratic Union's five.
According to the committee, there was evidence of voter fraud at six polling stations in the northern Arab towns of Yarka, Sakhnin, Shfaram and Arabeh. The committee's chairman, Justice Hanan Melcer, said those six polling stations are disqualified and won't be included in the final tally.
Some 3,800 votes were disqualified in total, and Melcer has asked Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit to decide whether to appeal before a district court to hold a do-over vote where entire ballot boxes were disqualified.
The committee stressed the police would launch an investigation into all suspected incidents of voter fraud.