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Battle over One Knesset Seat to Be Fought in Special Vote

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The Orthodox Degel HaTorah and the right-wing Tehiya parties are girding for an electoral rematch at two polling stations in the Bnei Brak Ramat Gan area northeast of Tel Aviv.

The reason for the second round of voting is Tehiya’s challenge that Degel masterminded fraudulent votes at two polling places during the Nov. 30, 1988 Knesset elections.

The special elections were ordered after a district court upheld Tehiya’s charge.

The Central Elections Committee, a statutory body presided over by a judge from the High Court of Justice, was to set the date of the polling on Tuesday.

Tehiya, which has three Knesset seats, claims it would have had a fourth but for ballots “cast” by deceased or otherwise absentee voters for the Degel list.

Tehiya would seem to have an advantage, because the Agudat Yisrael party, which has a large constituency in the district, is quietly lining up behind it.

Agudah, as strictly religious as Degel, is instructing its members to vote for the secular Tehiya because it has been feuding bitterly with the rival Orthodox faction.

Degel HaTorah was founded shortly before the 1988 elections by Rabbi Eliezer Schach, the sage of Bnei Brak.

Schach broke with the Agudah because he believes it is under the influence of the Chabad Hasidic movement, led by the Brooklyn-based Lubavitcher rebbe, Menachem Schneerson, whom he has accused of heresy.

Should Tehiya win the special election, Degel would be reduced to one Knesset seat. But the strength of the Likud government would be unchanged, since both parties are coalition members.

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