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Confusion, controversy as doubts loom over New Right’s possible entry to Knesset

Confusion around the possibility that the New Right Party passed the minimum threshold to enter the Knesset increased as announcements that the party succeeded were quickly followed by saying it had failed.

The ballots of soldiers and absentee voters are counted the day after national elections, on April 10, 2019. Photo by Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90.
The ballots of soldiers and absentee voters are counted the day after national elections, on April 10, 2019. Photo by Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90.

Confusion around the possibility that the New Right Party passed the minimum threshold to enter the Knesset only increased on Thursday morning as announcements that the party succeeded were quickly followed by announcements that it had failed.

Israel’s Central Elections Committee announced that all the votes had been counted as of Thursday morning, but due to the extremely tight race this year, votes were still being inspected.

The New Right, led by former Jewish Home Party leader Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, asked for a recount of “double envelopes”—the votes entered by Israel Defense Forces’ soldiers, Israeli foreign-service diplomats and those hospitalized and imprisoned on the grounds that results were extremely close, and that the CEC website initially reported that the party had the necessary votes, only to update the site to reflect a smaller number later on.

According to the CEC, the early-morning count that put them over the threshold at 3.26 percent was not final, and that irregularities were being reviewed.

Prior to the soldiers’ count, the New Right had 3.14 percent of the vote (127,504 votes), which is less than the 3.25 percent necessary to be part of the Knesset with four seats.

Earlier reports indicated that the party needed just 4,275 votes from IDF troops and diplomats.

The New Right only needed 4,275 of the votes from the soldiers, diplomats, sailors and others that are counted late to win.

Before the soldiers’ votes were tallied, the number needed to get into the Knesset was 131,779, but that will rise slightly.

Bennett called on voters to check the results at their local voting places and report any irregularities they believe may exist there.

“We won’t just wait, we’ll act,” he wrote. “Individual votes could make a difference, and therefore we must fight for every ballot. … Check if it looks like there are irregularities, like if there are zero votes for New Right, even though you personally know 12 people who voted for us.”

New Right vote-counting observers claimed that they were being barred from watching the count, despite policy allowing members of all parties to be present in order to maintain fairness and prevent fraud.

“By six in the morning, the New Right received the votes of soldiers who put them in the Knesset with four seats and the right-wing bloc grew to 67,” and observer was quoted as saying by Israel National News. “Suddenly, the entry of observers was stopped, the election committee’s website got stuck, the New Right’s numbers suddenly fell, and the New Right was pushed out of the Knesset. Meretz received another mandate from the soldiers, and the Rightist bloc fell from 67 to 64.”

Central Elections Committee member Avraham Weber told Army Radio on Thursday: “The electoral threshold has increased, so the New Right apparently doesn’t pass because of a shortage of 1,000 votes.”

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