The nationalist Jewish Home party has risen to become the fourth-largest Knesset faction, with 12 seats, after officials finished counting the votes of soldiers and others Thursday afternoon. The party had been predicted to take 11 seats before the last votes were counted.
Kadima, which had stood on the edge of falling out of the Knesset, just squeezed over the entrance threshold after the 240,000 last votes were counted, finishing with 2.09% of the vote and ensuring places in the Knesset for party head MK Shaul Mofaz and MK Israel Hasson,
Had it failed to garner enough votes from the soldiers, prisoners, hospital patients and diplomats abroad, whose votes are counted last, the gutted faction could have found itself pushed below the electoral threshold and out of the halls of power.
The party, which was the largest faction in the 18th Knesset, with 28 seats, will now be the smallest in the 19th.
The national religious Jewish Home party, on the other hand, rose to the 9.10% mark, pushing it past Shas and garnering it a 12th seat.
The extra spot comes at the expense of the Ra’am-Ta’al, which had been hovering at five seats but now drops to four.
The final tally gives the so-called right-wing-Orthodox bloc 61 seats, above the center-left-Arab bloc’s 59.
However, with Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party nixing any possibility of forming a blocking majority Wednesday, the balance of the blocs has taken on less importance.
The ultra right-wing Otzma Leyisrael, some 10,000 votes shy of the threshold, will not make it into the Knesset, as some had estimated it might.
Even with Kadima remaining above 2%, Yohanan Plesner, the MK who championed a bill for universal enlistment to the IDF and is the party’s No. 3, will not have a seat in parliament.
The final, but unofficial vote tally was announced Thursday afternoon. Central Election Committee chairman Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein anulled a ballot box from the Arab town of Yarka as it contained 200 more ballots than voters elligible to vote at the station.
In Tuesday’s elections, Likud-Beytenu topped the election totals, with enough votes to give it 31 seats. New party Yesh Atid garnered 19 seats, and Labor 15. Coalition talks are expected to begin in earnest next week, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu almost certain to be tapped to build a majority government.
The Central Elections Committee released the break down of the last votes counted and revealed that 24% of them wen to Likud-Beytenu, 16% to Yesh Atid, 15% to Jewish Home, 10% to Labor, 2.2% to Kadima and 3.9 to Aleh Yarok.
Ilan Ben Zion contributed to this report.