Final election results keep Netanyahu far ahead of challengers


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party garnered 30 Knesset seats, and the left-center coalition Zionist Union received 24 seats in the final results of the national election,

The Central Election Committee on Thursday released the final vote count, after the tabulating of an additional 200.000 absentee ballots from diplomats serving abroad, soldiers, prisoners, and hospitalized and seriously ill voters. Some 4,253,336 citizens voted, 72.3 percent of the electorate. It was the highest voter turnout since 1999, according to the Israel Democracy Institute.

The number of votes required to pass the minimum threshold of 3.25 percent was 136,808. The number of votes for each seat came out to 33,482.

The Joint Arab List placed third with 13 seats, down from a projected 14, but still remaining the third-largest party in the Knesset. Yesh Atid received 11 seats; Kulanu had 10, Jewish Home received eight, Shas , Yisrael Beytenu and United Torah Judaism each received six, and Meretz got five.

Meretz Party head Zahava Gal-on on Thursday said she would remain the head of the left-wing party after it gained a fifth seat. On Wednesday Gal-on had announced she would relinquish her seat and quit politics if the party dropped two seats from the last election to four seats.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will begin to meet with party representatives on Sunday to determine who should form the next government. He cannot task anyone with forming a government until after he is presented with the results on March 25.


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