Jewish Home’s Moalem enters Knesset at expense of Bedouin MK

Ballots of Israel’s soldiers, prisoners and diplomatic crew elevate mother of seven, push out veteran Taleb el-Sana

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Shuli Moalem (third from right) with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and Jewish Home supporters (photo credit: Shuli Moalem/Facebook)
Shuli Moalem (third from right) with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and Jewish Home supporters (photo credit: Shuli Moalem/Facebook)

Israel’s absentee vote count determined on Thursday that the right-wing Jewish Home party would gain a 12th seat in the next Knesset at the expense of Ra’am-Ta’al, an Arab-Israeli faction, installing newcomer Shuli Moalem as MK instead of veteran Taleb el-Sana.

The numbers after more than 250,000 absentee votes — cast by IDF soldiers, diplomats serving overseas, prisoner inmates and hospitalized patients — were tallied gave Jewish Home one seat more than the ultra-Orthodox Shas, kept the Arab list at the same number of seats it held in the last Knesset, and shifted the Knesset balance to 61-59 in favor of the right/Orthodox bloc over the center/left/Arab bloc. Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid is backing Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to head the next coalition.

MK Taleb el-Sana (photo credit: Matanya Tausig/Flash90)
MK Taleb el-Sana (photo credit: Matanya Tausig/Flash90)

Early Wednesday, initial results had pointed to Sana heading for another term in the Knesset, with Ra’am-Ta’al — a list uniting a number of Israeli-Arab factions — winning five seats.

Sana, a veteran Bedouin politician, has a law degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem  He was first elected to the Knesset in 1992 and has been an active legislator since.

Moalem, a mother of seven from the Neve Daniel settlement south of Jerusalem, held a top position in the IDF’s Widows and Orphans Organization for the past several years. She joined the organization shortly after losing her husband, Lt.-Col. Moshe Moalem, in a 1997 helicopter disaster in which 73 IDF soldiers were killed when two army helicopters collided in the air on their way to Lebanon.

“I’m glad the soldiers’ vote got me into the Knesset,” Moalem said when the results were clear. It “is another link in the special relationship I have with the IDF,” she added.

Years after her husband’s death Moalem remarried and raised seven children, two from her first marriage, three from her husband’s first marriage and two from their marriage.

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