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Mainstream US Jewish groups hint at unease with rise of Israeli far right

Weighing in on election for first time, AJC notes problematic remarks of potential cabinet members, while JFNA says it looks forward to working with incoming gov’t

  • L-R: MKs Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich at a rally of their Religious Zionism party in the southern city of Sderot on October 26, 2022. (Gil Cohen-Magen / AFP)
    L-R: MKs Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich at a rally of their Religious Zionism party in the southern city of Sderot on October 26, 2022. (Gil Cohen-Magen / AFP)
  • Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu addresses supporters at the party's campaign headquarters in Jerusalem early on November 2, 2022, with his wife Sara at his side. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
    Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu addresses supporters at the party's campaign headquarters in Jerusalem early on November 2, 2022, with his wife Sara at his side. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
  • Supporters of Benjamin Netanyahu celebrate the first exit poll results at Likud party headquarters in Jerusalem, November 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
    Supporters of Benjamin Netanyahu celebrate the first exit poll results at Likud party headquarters in Jerusalem, November 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
  • National Unity party leaders (from L) Gadi Eisenkot, Benny Gantz and Gideon Sa'ar meet on November 2, 2022 (National Unity)
    National Unity party leaders (from L) Gadi Eisenkot, Benny Gantz and Gideon Sa'ar meet on November 2, 2022 (National Unity)
  • Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir speaks to supporters at the far-right party's campaign headquarters after the results of exit polls are announced, November 1, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir speaks to supporters at the far-right party's campaign headquarters after the results of exit polls are announced, November 1, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Israeli Prime Minister and head of the Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid arrives to address supporters at campaign headquarters in Tel Aviv early on November 2, 2022, after the end of voting for national elections. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    Israeli Prime Minister and head of the Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid arrives to address supporters at campaign headquarters in Tel Aviv early on November 2, 2022, after the end of voting for national elections. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • Head of the Religious Zionist party Bezalel Smotrich at the party's campaign headquarters after election day, November 1, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
    Head of the Religious Zionist party Bezalel Smotrich at the party's campaign headquarters after election day, November 1, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
  • Meretz party supporters react as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, in Jerusalem November 1, 2022. (Flash90)
    Meretz party supporters react as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, in Jerusalem November 1, 2022. (Flash90)
  • Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu waves to his supporters at his party's headquarters in Jerusalem, Nov. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
    Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu waves to his supporters at his party's headquarters in Jerusalem, Nov. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
  • Shas party head Aryeh Deri celebrates with supporters as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, in Jerusalem. November 1, 2022 (Yossi Zamir/Flash90 )
    Shas party head Aryeh Deri celebrates with supporters as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, in Jerusalem. November 1, 2022 (Yossi Zamir/Flash90 )
  • Head of the Otzma Yehudit party MK Itamar Ben Gvir speaks to supporters as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, at the party's campaign headquarters in Jerusalem, November 1, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Head of the Otzma Yehudit party MK Itamar Ben Gvir speaks to supporters as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, at the party's campaign headquarters in Jerusalem, November 1, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they happened.

Likud claims elections czar’s caution tape causing miscount

The Central Elections Committee is pushing back after the Likud party claimed that it is keeping observers from watching the final votes be counted at election headquarters.

Likud head Benjamin Netanyahu claimed in a social media post just before midnight that a cordon set up around tables where ballot counters are sitting was an “unprecedented” and “illegal” move that is keeping poll-watchers from being able to observe the count, alleging that there will be “mistakes and forgeries.”

CEC head Orly Adas responds that the cordon, a thin ribbon of caution tape, was set up to help with the orderly distribution of so-called double envelope ballots — those from soldiers, diplomats and others who were unable to vote at their normal polling stations. She slams “certain officials spreading unfounded rumors of irregularities.”

“Even before the counting of the double-envelopes began, we are already hearing certain officials calling for a recount, for a count that has yet to begin,” she says, according to Ynet.

Updated vote tally pushes Meretz further from threshold

The Central Elections Committee says over 89 percent of votes have now been counted, with the tally pushing Meretz slightly further from the 3.25% threshold needed to enter the Knesset.

The left wing party now sits at 3.17%, down from 3.18% two hours ago.

Arab nationalist Balad is also no closer to the threshold, at 3.04%.

The new tallies place Likud at over 1 million votes, 1,002,734 to be exact.

Iran orders probe into ‘shocking’ police brutality video

Iranian authorities have ordered an investigation into a video showing officers savagely beating a protester that rights groups said exposed the brutality of the crackdown on demonstrations sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death.

Footage that appeared yesterday on social media, shot at night on a mobile phone purportedly in a district of Tehran, showed a squad of around a dozen policemen in an alley kicking and beating a man with their batons, as other officers on motorbikes looked on.

The man initially tries to cover his head with his hands, before the sound of a gunshot is heard and he is run over by a police motorbike. His motionless body is then abandoned.

“This shocking video sent from Tehran is another horrific reminder that the cruelty of Iran’s security forces knows no bounds,” Amnesty International said, adding that police appeared to have a “free rein” to use violence.

Iran’s police force announce in a statement that an order has been issued to “investigate the exact time and place of the incident and identify the offenders.”

“The police absolutely do not approve of violent and unconventional behaviour and will deal with the offenders according to the rules,” adds the statement published by state news agency IRNA.

88.7% of votes now counted; Meretz moves further below minimum threshold

Meretz party supporters react as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, in Jerusalem November 1, 2022. (Flash90)
Meretz party supporters react as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, in Jerusalem November 1, 2022. (Flash90)

Vote counting continues into the night, with the Central Elections Committee reporting that 88.7 percent of ballots have now been counted.

The latest totals don’t change the distribution of seats, but they show Meretz moving slightly further below the minimum vote threshold, with the left-wing party now at 3.18% of total votes cast.

The party needs 3.25% of all votes in order to make it into the next Knesset.

Erdogan: Turkey wants ‘sustainable ties’ with Israel no matter election result

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greets MPs during his Justice and Development party's group meeting at the Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara, Turkey, on November 2, 2022. (Adem Altan/AFP)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greets MPs during his Justice and Development party's group meeting at the Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara, Turkey, on November 2, 2022. (Adem Altan/AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that whatever the outcome of Israel’s election, he “wants to maintain sustainable ties” with Jerusalem based on “mutual sensitivities [and] common interests,” according to the official Anadolu news agency.

The comment comes as non-final results show a clear majority for the right-religious bloc led by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who regularly clashed with the Turkish leader while in office.

Erdogan has long been a vocal critic of Israel and cut ties with Jerusalem in 2010 after the Gaza flotilla raid, but over the past year has moved to restore full diplomatic relations.

Lebanon says it has US ‘guarantees’ on maritime deal with Israel if Netanyahu wins

Deputy Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament Elias Bou Saab addresses the ongoing maritime negotiations between Israel and Lebanon during a live TV broadcast, October 3, 2022 (used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Deputy Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament Elias Bou Saab addresses the ongoing maritime negotiations between Israel and Lebanon during a live TV broadcast, October 3, 2022 (used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

BEIRUT — Lebanon has secured “American guarantees” that its maritime border deal with Israel cannot be easily scrapped should Benjamin Netanyahu return to the Israeli premiership, says Beirut’s chief negotiator.

Israel and Lebanon struck a US-brokered sea border agreement last month that opens up lucrative offshore gas fields for the neighbors that remain technically at war.

Netanyahu, who appears on the cusp of returning to power, has staunchly opposed the deal, dismissing it as an “illegal ploy” and warning he would not be bound by its terms.

“We obtained sufficient American guarantees that this deal cannot easily be canceled,” says Lebanon’s negotiator Elias Bou Saab, who is also deputy parliament speaker.

If Netanyahu wants to withdraw from the deal, then “he will withdraw from an agreement with the US,” Bou Saab tells AFP, noting that Israel and Lebanon had signed separate deals with the United States.

He says Washington has warned that “the withdrawal of any party would have great consequences on both countries.”

“When Netanyahu says that he wants to withdraw, this means that he will be facing the international community,” Bou Saab adds.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price stops short of confirming guarantees, but says the deal is “in the interests of Israel and Lebanon.”

“Because it was in the interest of both countries it was in the profound interest of the United States. We seek to see a more stable, a more integrated region,” he tells reporters.

“Scarce resources, we know from history, have the potential to create tensions and potentially to escalate tensions into, in some cases, the brink of conflict.”

Gantz speaks to Lloyd Austin in 1st post-election call between Israeli and US officials

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, right, meets with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon on May 19, 2022. (Shmulik Almany/GPO)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz, right, meets with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon on May 19, 2022. (Shmulik Almany/GPO)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks with his US counterpart, Lloyd Austin, in the first public contact between senior Israeli and US officials following yesterday’s Knesset elections.

The two discussed Israel’s ongoing counterterror campaign in the West Bank, as well as Iran’s “malign activities” in the region and “recent provision of UAVs used for attacks in Ukraine,” according to a statement from Gantz’s office.

“The ministers agreed on the need to address Iranian aggression,” the statement says.

Gantz appears set to be replaced as defense minister, with his National Unity party announcing it will head to the opposition after former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bloc seemed to clinch a clear majority in the election.

Pro-Israel Democrat group warns against including Religious Zionism in coalition

Far-right MKs Itamar Ben Gvir (L) and Bezalel Smotrich at the Damascus Gate outside Jerusalem's Old City on October 20, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Far-right MKs Itamar Ben Gvir (L) and Bezalel Smotrich at the Damascus Gate outside Jerusalem's Old City on October 20, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Democratic Majority for Israel expresses its concern regarding Religious Zionism’s strong showing in yesterday’s election.

“We cannot help but be deeply troubled by the fact that an anti-democratic and extremist party led by Kahanist Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich will gain a larger foothold in the Knesset,” the group says. “While this party only represents about 10% of Israeli voters, it may wield outsize political influence as former prime minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu can only put together a governing coalition with its support.”

“DMFI has repeatedly reiterated our belief that this party should have no place in Israel’s governing coalition,” the group says, while asserting that the US-Israel relationship will “survive having Kahanists in the Knesset.”

It also notes its respect for Israel’s robust democracy, which includes “parties ranging from the far left to the far right.”

US: We hope all Israeli officials will uphold our shared democratic values

From left to right: Otzma Yehudit leader MK Itamar Ben Gvir, opposition leader and Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, and Religious Zionism head MK Bezalel Smotrich. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
From left to right: Otzma Yehudit leader MK Itamar Ben Gvir, opposition leader and Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, and Religious Zionism head MK Bezalel Smotrich. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

US State Department spokesman Ned Price expresses hope that Israeli officials will continue to uphold the shared democratic values of the two countries.

Price’s statement appears to be a response to the rise of the far-right Religious Zionism party, which is expected to play a central role in the formation of the new government following yesterday’s election.

Price is pressed to elaborate on the US position regarding the results of the Israeli election during today’s press briefing.

He first reiterates the statement released earlier today by US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, who said it is still too early to draw any conclusions regarding the composition of the next government, but added that he looks forward to working with whoever is in power to advance the shared values and interests of the US and Israel.

Elaborating further on that answer after being pressed, Price says that “what makes this relationship so strong — and what has made it so strong since Israel’s independence to the present day — is that this is a relationship that has always been based on our shared interests, but importantly our shared values.

“We hope that all Israeli government officials will continue to share the values of an open, democratic society, including tolerance and respect for all in civil society, particularly for minority groups,” Price adds.

“We have certain interests and values of our [own]. You’ve heard us speak to the commitment we have to a future two-state solution and to equal measures of security, freedom, justice and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians alike,” he says.

J Street: Israel election results should spur serious reckoning for pro-peace Americans

J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami addressing the group’s conference in Washington, March 21, 2015. (Courtesy JTA/J Street)
J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami addressing the group’s conference in Washington, March 21, 2015. (Courtesy JTA/J Street)

Jeremy Ben-Ami, who heads the dovish Mideast lobby J Street, expresses deep concern about the projected Israeli election results showing the pro-Netanyahu bloc of right-wing, religious parties poised to return to the governing coalition after less than two years.

“Last night’s election results in Israel are deeply troubling for all who care about Israel and about liberal democracy globally — for those whose core values of justice, equality and freedom are fundamentally at odds with those of the parties and leaders who stand on the cusp of victory,” Ben-Ami says.

“Of course, Americans didn’t have a vote in yesterday’s election, and we respect the outcome even as we declare our staunch opposition to the dangerous policies and ideology of those who won,” he says.

“The likely formation of an ultra-right Netanyahu government should force a moment of serious reckoning for all Americans who care about the nature of the US-Israel relationship and a just, equal and democratic future for both Israelis and Palestinians.”

AJC: Statements from potential ministers concerning, but we’ll work with any gov’t

MKs Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich at a rally of their Religious Zionism party in the southern city of Sderot on October 26, 2022. (Gil Cohen-Magen / AFP)
MKs Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich at a rally of their Religious Zionism party in the southern city of Sderot on October 26, 2022. (Gil Cohen-Magen / AFP)

The American Jewish Committee breaks its silence regarding the rise of the far-right Religious Zionism party, acknowledging that statements from some of its members “raise serious concerns,” while clarifying that it will work with those in government who are committed to democratic values.

AJC refrained from commenting on the matter until throughout the campaign, arguing that it did not want to interfere in the Israeli democratic process — something it had no problem doing in 2019 when it warned against the rise of the Otzma Yehudit party, which made significant gains yesterday running on a joint slate with Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism.

The prominent, mainstream Jewish organization avoids mentioning any politicians by name in its statement, saying only: “For AJC, and for many Jews in America, Israel and around the world, past statements of some potential members of the governing coalition raise serious concerns about issues we prioritize: pluralism, inclusion, and increased opportunities for peace and normalization.”

“Regardless of the composition of any governing coalition, we will continue to work with those in the Israeli government and in Israeli society who are committed to advancing democracy, inclusion, and peace, and to combating efforts to undermine these values,” the statement adds.

AJC’s position goes further than the Jewish Federations of North America, another prominent, mainstream umbrella Jewish organization. That group released a statement earlier today saying it respected the results of Israel’s election and looked forward to working with whatever government is formed.

Asked specifically if the group had a problem working with Ben Gvir or Smotrich, a JFNA spokesperson does not indicate any specific concerns.

“We have worked with every Israeli government in the past. The makeup of this particular coalition will take weeks to finalize,” a Jewish Federations of North America spokesperson says.

“The North American Jewish community’s relationship with Israel is built on our shared values and ideals, such as democracy, support of the rule of law, and equal justice for all. It is always our priority to strengthen these shared values,” the spokesperson says.

Just 8k votes separate blocs, but electoral threshold favors Netanyahu

Meretz party supporters react as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, in Jerusalem November 1, 2022. (Flash90)
Meretz party supporters react as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, in Jerusalem November 1, 2022. (Flash90)

While the pro-Netanyahu bloc is slated to expand to 65 seats in the Knesset following yesterday’s election, Channel 12 reports that it only received 8,189 more votes than the anti-Netanyahu bloc.

However, because Balad and possibly Meretz failed to cross the threshold, their votes were scattered to other parties rather than being redistributed to the anti-Netanyahu bloc, which is slated to end with just 55 seats in the Knesset.

Both blocs won roughly 50% of the vote, though the final tallies are not yet available.

Smotrich said to be top candidate for defense or finance minister

Head of the Religious Zionist party Bezalel Smotrich at the party's campaign headquarters on November 1, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
Head of the Religious Zionist party Bezalel Smotrich at the party's campaign headquarters on November 1, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Religious Zionism chairman Bezalel Smotrich is a leading candidate for the position of either defense or finance minister, according to Channel 12.

If not Smotrich, Netanyahu will likely pick another candidate within Likud for the finance portfolio, the TV network says. Likud MK Nir Barkat has expressed interest in the job in the past and was promised it by Likud chair Benjamin Netanyahu only to ultimately be passed over.

Smotrich’s preferred position, however, is said to be defense minister. Netanyahu is seen as more likely however to give that job to Likud MK Yoav Gallant and instead have Smotrich take over the Finance Ministry, the Kan public broadcaster says.

As for the position of foreign minister, Channel 12 says it will likely be a competition between Likud MKs Yariv Levin and Israel Katz — who held the post briefly in the past.

Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben Gvir is a leading candidate to serve as public security minister, a job he has publicly demanded, United Torah Judaism chairman Yitzchak Goldknopf is likely to be named housing minister and Shas chairman Aryeh Deri — who was forced out of the Knesset briefly earlier this year following yet another criminal conviction — is expected to return to the Interior Ministry.

50-year-old pedestrian struck and killed by car in northern Israel

A 50-year-old pedestrian has been struck and killed by a car on Route 4 near Tirat Hacarmel in northern Israel.

Magen David Adom medics declare the man dead at the site, and traffic has been temporarily blocked in both directions.

Police are investigating the circumstances of the incident.

Herzog to begin meeting MKs next week to decide who will form next government

President Isaac Herzog announces special considerations for clemency in the lead up to Israel 75th year of independence, Jerusalem, Israel, October 2, 2022. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog announces special considerations for clemency in the lead up to Israel 75th year of independence, Jerusalem, Israel, October 2, 2022. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

President Isaac Herzog’s office says he will begin meeting next week with representatives from the various parties in the next Knesset in order to determine which lawmaker to charge with forming a future government.

The consultations will commence once the final results are formally presented to the president one week from today. Herzog will have a further week, until November 16, to announce which lawmaker he will task with forming a government.

That lawmaker will have 28 days to form a government, but is allowed to request a 14-day extension.

After his bloc of right-wing and religious parties made significant gains in yesterday’s election, Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to be tasked with the job. He is not expected to have much difficulty in building a coalition as his bloc has secured a relatively comfortable and homogenous majority.

Meretz chair: We’re just 0.1% shy of threshold. Now’s not time for closing remarks

Meretz chair Zehava Galon, in Tel Aviv, August 23, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Meretz chair Zehava Galon, in Tel Aviv, August 23, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

With ballot counting nearly complete and the left-wing Meretz party still just below the electoral threshold after a lackluster campaign, faction leader Zehava Galon says she’s not yet ready to analyze what went wrong.

“This is not an easy moment for me, but it is not yet the time for conclusions and summaries. Meretz is currently less than 0.1% of the electoral threshold,” she says in a statement.

The left-wing party will need the help of “double-envelope” voters such as soldiers, convicts and diplomats in order to squeak into the next Knesset.

Ben Gvir’s party: Left trying to provoke US into interfering with Israeli democracy

Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir tours the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem on October 28, 2022, ahead of the upcoming Knesset elections. (Olivier Ftoussi/Flash90)
Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir tours the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem on October 28, 2022, ahead of the upcoming Knesset elections. (Olivier Ftoussi/Flash90)

After a media report claimed that the US was considering boycotting far-right Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben Gvir — who is expected to receive a ministerial post in Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu’s government — Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit faction accuses the Israeli left of being involved in the matter.

“The undemocratic campaign that the Israeli left has been pushing continues,” the party says in a statement. “We know very well who in Israel is trying to incite the Americans to interfere in Israeli democracy and what their interests are.”

The same accusation was hurled at the Yesh Atid party after a pair of US Democratic lawmakers warned Israelis against empowering Ben Gvir given his extremist policies and views.

Shaked says decision to remain in race was hers alone after Likud MK suggests otherwise

Ayelet Shaked, Interior Minister and head of the Jewish Home party, speaks during a press conference in Ramat Gan, October 25, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Ayelet Shaked, Interior Minister and head of the Jewish Home party, speaks during a press conference in Ramat Gan, October 25, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked responds to Likud MK Yoav Kisch’s claim that the two parties reached a secret agreement in which she would stay in the race until the end in order to prevent her more moderate voters from fleeing to the anti-Netanyahu bloc.

“The decision to run until the end was mine alone, based on the belief that the voice of the Jewish Home was an important one that must be expressed,” she says in a statement.

However, she admits she consulted on the matter with Likud MK Yariv Levin, who told her that her remaining in the race would not negatively impact the right-wing bloc.

With no comment on Ben Gvir, JFNA says it looks forward to working with next Israeli gov’t

A panel discussion at the JFNA General Assembly in Chicago on October 30, 2022. (Jewish Federations of North America)
A panel discussion at the JFNA General Assembly in Chicago on October 30, 2022. (Jewish Federations of North America)

The Jewish Federations of North America weighs in on yesterday’s Israeli election for the first time, saying it looks forward to working with whatever government is formed.

JFNA avoids condemning the rise of the far-right Religious Zionism party as progressive Jewish groups in the US have done.

The umbrella group says it “respect[s] and salute[s] Israel’s vibrant democratic process, which allows all Israelis a voice and vote in forming their government.

“We look forward to working with the government selected by the Israeli people, as we always have, to support Jews around the world and strengthen the relationships between Israel, the North American Jewish community, and our government leaders.”

Netanyahu bars Likud MKs from media interviews after Kisch reveals secret deal with Shaked

Likud MKs vote to back then-incumbent Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein for another term in the position, during a faction meeting at the Knesset, on April 30, 2019. (Raoul Wootliff/Times of Israel)
Likud MKs vote to back then-incumbent Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein for another term in the position, during a faction meeting at the Knesset, on April 30, 2019. (Raoul Wootliff/Times of Israel)

Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered all members of in his party to cease any media interview until further notice after MK Yoav Kisch revealed that the party hade made a secret agreement with Jewish Home chair Ayelet Shaked that saw her stay in the race until the end in order to prevent more moderate right-wing votes from going to parties in the opposing bloc.

Religious Zionism MK: People of all sexual orientations were at our election party, some even went to Ben Gvir’s too

Religious participants in the annual gay pride parade in Jerusalem, September 18, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Religious participants in the annual gay pride parade in Jerusalem, September 18, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman tells Army Radio, “Yesterday at our election victory party, people from all sexual orientations came and danced with everyone and celebrated Religious Zionism’s big victory together with us.”

“Apparently they know something that is still not understood in some of the news studios,” he says.

Surprised by what he was hearing, the interviewer asked if LGBT individuals were really at the election results party of Religious Zionism, which is an alliance of far-right parties that includes the anti-LGBT Noam faction.

“The term LGBT is one I don’t really understand because I never identified people based on their sexual orientation, but LGBT people absolutely danced and celebrated with us…some even split their time between our party and [Itamar] Ben Gvir’s [Otzma Yehudit],” Rothman adds.

If members of the LGBT community were indeed in attendance last night at the Otzma Yehudit election results party, they would’ve shared a room with Bentzi Gopstein, head of the homophobic anti-miscegenation Lehava organization who received a shout-out from Ben Gvir in the latter’s thank-you speech.

Likud denies coordinating with Shaked after one of its MKs claimed otherwise

Then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, speaks with then justice minister Ayelet Shaked in the Knesset, December 21, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, speaks with then justice minister Ayelet Shaked in the Knesset, December 21, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Likud party issues a statement insisting that it did not coordinate with Jewish Home chair Ayelet Shaked, moments after MK Yoav Kisch told Channel 12 that his party had struck a secret agreement with Shaked in which she agreed to stay in the race until the end, despite having little chance of crossing the electoral threshold, in order to prevent more moderate voters from backing parties in the anti-Netanyahu bloc.

Likud MK says party made deal with Shaked that she’d stay in race in order to burn moderate votes

Then-justice minister Ayelet Shaked (R) and Likud MK Amir Ohana (2R) attend a Knesset committee meeting on July 26, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Then-justice minister Ayelet Shaked (R) and Likud MK Amir Ohana (2R) attend a Knesset committee meeting on July 26, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Likud MK Yoav Kisch tells Channel 12 that his party struck a secret agreement with Jewish Home chair Ayelet Shaked in which she agreed to stay in the race until the end, despite having little chance of crossing the electoral threshold, in order to prevent more moderate voters from backing parties in the anti-Netanyahu bloc.

Asked if Shaked was promised anything in exchange, Kisch declines to comment before saying that he had not heard of any offer made to the Jewish Home chair, who wound up receiving just 1.16 percent of the vote yesterday, according to the latest tally.

Shaked sought to offer an alternative to right-wing voters uncomfortable with the more hardline nature of Likud and Religious Zionism, while clarifying that she would sit in a narrow, right-wing government with those parties. But the combination of the unpopularity of her decision to join the previous government with left-wing parties and the fear of many voters that she had no chance of crossing the threshold prevented her slate from ever taking off.

With Ben Gvir likely to be minister, US reportedly leaning toward not engaging with him

MK Itamar Ben Gvir, leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, speaks during a press conference ahead of the upcoming elections in Jerusalem, October 30, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)
MK Itamar Ben Gvir, leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, speaks during a press conference ahead of the upcoming elections in Jerusalem, October 30, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)

The Biden administration is unlikely to engage with Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben-Gvir who is expected to serve as minister in Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu’s government if the election results hold, Axios reports, citing two anonymous US officials.

No official decision has been made yet, though, the site clarifies.

If carried out, a boycott of an Israeli minister by the US would represent an unprecedented development in bilateral relations.

IDF: Plane with soldier aboard grounded briefly in Iran before taking off without incident

Illustrative: This image released by Apple TV+ shows Niv Sultan as Tamar Rabinyan in a scene from 'Tehran.' (Apple TV+ via AP)
Illustrative: This image released by Apple TV+ shows Niv Sultan as Tamar Rabinyan in a scene from 'Tehran.' (Apple TV+ via AP)

An Israeli soldier aboard a plane from Uzbekistan landed in Iran last Thursday, the military says.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the plane was diverted due to a medical condition of one of the passengers.

The plane spent several hours in Iran before taking off again without any incidents, the IDF says.

The soldier, who does not serve in a sensitive position, was on vacation visiting family.

US environmental official to visit Israel ahead of climate confab in Egypt

The US State Department announces that Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs and Special Envoy for Biodiversity and Water Resources Monica Medina will be in Tel Aviv from Thursday to Saturday for meetings with government officials and NGOs to discuss water reuse issues.

Medina will then head to Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, to join the US delegation to the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP27.

“While at COP27, Assistant Secretary Medina will focus on the intersections between the climate, biodiversity, and water scarcity crises,” the State Department says.

Progressive rabbi calls out mainstream US Jewish groups’ silence on Ben Gvir’s rise

Head of the Otzma Yehudit party Itamar Ben Gvir speaks to supporters at the party's campaign headquarters in Jerusalem after the November 1, 2022 elections. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Head of the Otzma Yehudit party Itamar Ben Gvir speaks to supporters at the party's campaign headquarters in Jerusalem after the November 1, 2022 elections. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A prominent progressive rabbi in the US takes mainstream American Jewish groups to task for failing to speak out amid the rise of far-right Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben Gvir.

Jill Jacobs, who heads the T’ruah rights organization for Jewish clergy members in North America, says in a statement that “there has been a remarkable lack of public concern among American Jewish organizations about Ben-Gvir’s Religious Zionist slate, which traffics in racism and homophobia, advocates for the deportation of Palestinian citizens of Israel, and incites violence against Palestinians and Israeli leftists.

“Jewish organizations have a moral obligation to stand together against Ben-Gvir and his party and loudly declare that they do not represent Jewish interests.

“Although we do not yet know the final tallies and what coalitions will be built to create Israel’s next government, we must call out the dangers of a Kahanist majority so that all know they represent the incitement of violence on Palestinians and Israeli leftists,” Jacobs adds.

US envoy says it’s still too early to know composition of next Israeli gov’t

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides (L) and opposition chairman Benjamin Netanyahu meet in the Knesset on December 9, 2021. (US Embassy in Israel)
US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides (L) and opposition chairman Benjamin Netanyahu meet in the Knesset on December 9, 2021. (US Embassy in Israel)

While former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to the premiership appeared all but certain with the vast majority of votes counted, US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides avoids calling it in the Likud leader’s favor.

“It is too early to speculate on the exact composition of the next governing coalition until all the votes are counted,” he says in a statement.

Nides hails the high turnout rate and says he looks forward “to continuing to work with the Israeli government on our shared interests and values.”

Ex-US ambassador predicts ‘rocky road’ ahead between Biden and Netanyahu

US President Joe Biden (L) meets opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, July 14, 2022 (GPO)
US President Joe Biden (L) meets opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, July 14, 2022 (GPO)

Former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk predicts there will be a “rocky road” ahead for Israel-US relations if Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu forms a government with the far-right Religious Zionism party.

“The Biden administration doesn’t have a good history of relations with Netanyahu, and if he takes on these far-right extremists into his government and into his cabinet, then I think we’re in for a rocky road,” Indyk says in remarks broadcast on Channel 12.

Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc is poised to win a clear victory in Israel’s elections.

IDF officer wounded in car-ramming attack regains consciousness

Israeli soldiers secure the site of car ramming attack at the Maccabim checkpoint in the West Bank, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
Israeli soldiers secure the site of car ramming attack at the Maccabim checkpoint in the West Bank, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

The condition of an IDF officer seriously wounded in a car-ramming attack this morning has stabilized and he has regained consciousness, Shaare Zedek hospital says.

Despite being hit and severely wounded, the officer managed to shoot and kill the assailant, who also tried to attack him with an axe.

Musk says may take ‘weeks’ for banned Twitter accounts to be restored

Elon Musk attends Heidi Klum's 21st annual Halloween party at Sake No Hana at Moxy Lower East Side on Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Elon Musk attends Heidi Klum's 21st annual Halloween party at Sake No Hana at Moxy Lower East Side on Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

New Twitter owner Elon Musk says that it will be “a few more weeks” before any banned accounts — such as that of former US president Donald Trump — may be restored on the platform.

Twitter users have been watching closely to see whether Musk will reinstate Trump, banned for inciting last year’s attack on the Capitol by a mob seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election, and other deplatformed users.

The potential reinstatement of such accounts banned for violating the site’s content moderation rules has been seen as a bellwether of where Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist,” wants to take the site he describes as a global town square.

But on Wednesday the South African billionaire said the wait will have to continue a little longer.

“Twitter will not allow anyone who was de-platformed for violating Twitter rules back on platform until we have a clear process for doing so, which will take at least a few more weeks,” he tweets.

National Unity party leaders: We will go to the opposition

National Unity party leaders (from L) Gadi Eisenkot, Benny Gantz and Gideon Sa'ar meet on November 2, 2022 (National Unity)
National Unity party leaders (from L) Gadi Eisenkot, Benny Gantz and Gideon Sa'ar meet on November 2, 2022 (National Unity)

The three leaders of the National Unity party Benny Gantz, Gideon Sa’ar and Gadi Eisenkot announce that they will not enter coalition negotiations with Benjamin Netanyahu and will go to the opposition.

“The State of Israel faces many great challenges that the government, dependent on extremists, must face,” the three said in a statement after meeting, referring to the far-right Religious Zionism party that looks set to become the third largest party.

“We have decided to continue to try and establish the National Unity camp as a major organization at the center of the political map. We accept the decision of the voters and after the establishment of the government we will remain a responsible opposition,” the statement says.

The statement comes amid speculation Netanyahu, who appears headed for a resounding victory, could try and bring National Unity into his government in a bid to balance out the far-right elements.

 

Report: Russian military leaders discussed using tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine

In this handout photo taken from video released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, a Yars intercontinental ballistic missile is test-fired as part of Russia's nuclear drills from a launch site in Plesetsk, northwestern Russia.(Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this handout photo taken from video released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, a Yars intercontinental ballistic missile is test-fired as part of Russia's nuclear drills from a launch site in Plesetsk, northwestern Russia.(Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

Senior Russian military commanders recently held conversations to discuss when and how they might use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine, The New York Times reports, citing multiple senior American officials.

The report says Russian President Vladimir Putin was not part of the discussions.

The report comes amid heightened tension and fears Russia could use nuclear weapons.

The US officials say Russian generals are becoming increasingly frustrated by their setbacks on the battlefield in Ukraine.

But the officials say they have seen no evidence so far that Russia has made practical efforts to move warheads into place for use.

Ukraine armed forces post message thanking Israel for support

Chief Rabbi of Kyiv's Brodsky Synagogue Rabbi Moshe Azman at prayer, August 8, 2022 (Lazar Berman/The Times of Israel)
Chief Rabbi of Kyiv's Brodsky Synagogue Rabbi Moshe Azman at prayer, August 8, 2022 (Lazar Berman/The Times of Israel)

Ukraine’s Armed Forces General Staff posts a message to its Facebook page, thanking Israel for its support.

Though senior Ukrainian officials have intensified their criticism of Israel recently over its unwillingness to supply air defense systems, the General Staff posts pictures from Kyiv’s Brodsky Synagogue Chief Rabbi Moshe Azman’s ongoing trip to Israel, where he is rallying support for Ukraine among Israelis.

“The Armed Forces of Ukraine are grateful for #Israel support and assistance!” reads the post, noting that two injured Ukrainian soldiers undergoing treatment in Israel were also present.

Iran orders probe into ‘shocking’ police brutality video

Iranian authorities order an investigation into a video showing officers savagely beating a protester that rights groups said exposed the sheer brutality of the police repression against protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini.

Iran has been rocked by over six weeks of protests following the death of Amini who had been arrested by the notorious morality police in Tehran, with the movement now seen as the biggest challenge to the Islamic Republic’s leadership since the 1979 revolution.

Activists say dozens have been killed and thousands arrested in a crackdown by the security forces who have been accused of firing on protesters at close range, bludgeoning them with batons and other abuses.

A video that appeared late Tuesday on social media, shot at night on a mobile phone purportedly in a district of Tehran, showed a squad of around a dozen policemen in an alley kicking and beating a man with their batons, as other officers on motorbikes looked on.

The man initially tried to cover his head with his hands, before the sound of a gunshot is heard and he is run over by a police motorbike. His motionless body is then abandoned.

Iran’s police force announce in a statement published by state news agency IRNA that an order had been issued to “investigate the exact time and place of the incident and identify the offenders.”

“The police absolutely do not approve of violent and unconventional behavior and will deal with the offenders according to the rules,” the statement add.

Lapid to cancel trip to environment summit in Egypt

Prime Minister Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid party, speaks to supporters as the results of exit polls in national elections are announced, in Tel Aviv, on November 2, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid party, speaks to supporters as the results of exit polls in national elections are announced, in Tel Aviv, on November 2, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid is canceling his planned participation in the upcoming UN climate change conference, known as COP27, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

Hebrew media reports say the decision is made following his apparent election loss.

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held from November 6 to18 and Lapid had been expected to arrive on November 7.

President Isaac Herzog will take his place representing Israel.

Danny Danon to run for Knesset speaker

Likud party member Danny Danon speaks to press as the results of the elections are announced, in Jerusalem November 1, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Likud party member Danny Danon speaks to press as the results of the elections are announced, in Jerusalem November 1, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Incoming Likud MK Danny Danon announces his intention to run for the position of speaker of the Knesset.

Danon, a former ambassador to the UN, calls for the speaker to be replaced as soon as possible, even before a new government is sworn in.

Danon’s call comes before final results are in, but with the Likud-led bloc heading toward a clear victory.

Saudis give US intel that Iran preparing for attack on the kingdom

In this photo released by the Iranian Army on Aug. 25, 2022, a drone is launched from a warship in a military drone drill in Iran. (Iranian Army via AP)
In this photo released by the Iranian Army on Aug. 25, 2022, a drone is launched from a warship in a military drone drill in Iran. (Iranian Army via AP)

Saudi Arabia has shared intelligence with American officials that suggests Iran could be preparing for an imminent attack on the kingdom, three US officials say.

The heightened concerns about a potential attack on Saudi Arabia come as the Biden administration is criticizing Tehran for its crackdown on widespread protests and condemning it for sending hundreds of drones — as well as technical support — to Russia for use in its war in Ukraine.

“We are concerned about the threat picture, and we remain in constant contact through military and intelligence channels with the Saudis,” the National Security Council says in a statement. “We will not hesitate to act in the defense of our interests and partners in the region.”

Saudi Arabia did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Nor did Iran’s mission to the United Nations.

Knesset could be without any Druze representatives for first time in 3 decades

Ali Salalha celebrates after the release Meretz primaries in Tel Aviv, February 14, 2019. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)
Ali Salalha celebrates after the release Meretz primaries in Tel Aviv, February 14, 2019. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

For the first time in over 30 years, the new Knesset might not have any representation from the Druze community, if the current results hold.

Meretz has Ali Salalha at number 4 on its list, but the party is currently just short of crossing the electoral threshold.

In Yisrael Beytenu, Hamad Amar is number six on the list, but the party is currently set to win five seats.

Likud has  Abed Afif at number 44 and National Unity has Akram Hasson at number 16, both far from realistic positions.

Soldier who killed Nathan Fitoussi in friendly fire incident removed from combat duty

Staff Sgt. Nathan Fitoussi in an undated photograph published by the military on August 16, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
Staff Sgt. Nathan Fitoussi in an undated photograph published by the military on August 16, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

An Israeli soldier who accidentally shot and killed his comrade in August is being removed from combat duty as the Israel Defense Forces wraps up a probe into the friendly fire incident.

Nathan Fitoussi, 20, was shot dead on late August 15 after he returned to a guard post near the Palestinian city of Tulkarem and was misidentified as a threat.

The soldier stationed at the post with Fitoussi, identified by the initials of his name in Hebrew, Aleph Mem, was removed from combat duty “since he did not meet the operational norms expected of an IDF soldier,” the military says.

The IDF adds that the procedures for pairs of soldiers guarding, and the open-fire policy, have been “sharpened.”

The Military Police is still probing the fatal accident, and upon completion of its investigation, the findings are to be forwarded to the Military Prosecutor’s Office for review.

North Korea fires 23 missiles; one lands near South Korea’s waters

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

North Korea fires at least 23 missiles, including one that landed close to South Korea’s waters in what President Yoon Suk-yeol says is “effectively a territorial invasion.”

It also fires an artillery barrage into a maritime “buffer zone,” in what experts said was part of an “aggressive and threatening” response by Pyongyang to the large-scale joint air drills the United States and South Korea are currently conducting.

One short-range ballistic missile crossed the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border, prompting a rare warning for residents on the island of Ulleungdo to seek shelter in bunkers.

Seoul’s military says it was the “first time since the peninsula was divided” at the end of Korean War hostilities in 1953 that a North Korean missile had landed so close to the South’s territorial waters.

With 97% of regular votes counted, Likud-led bloc has 65 seats, Meretz out

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu waves to his supporters at his party's headquarters in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu waves to his supporters at his party's headquarters in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

With 97% of regular votes counted, Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc is heading to a convincing victory, while the left-wing Meretz party remains short of crossing the threshold.

The Central Elections Committee has so far counted 4,101,766 votes, with 24,306 invalidated.

Based on the current count, Netanyahu’s bloc would pick up 65 seats, though this number may change as more ballots are processed, including some 500,000 “double envelopes” containing ballots cast by soldiers, prisoners and diplomats.

Currently, Likud has 31; Yesh Atid, 24; Religious Zionism, 14; National Unity, 12; Shas, 12; United Torah Judaism, 8; Yisrael Beytenu, 5; Ra’am, 5; Hadash-Ta’al, 5 and Labor has 4.

Exit polls predicted 62 seats for Netanyahu’s bloc, enough to secure a majority and form a coalition in the 120-seat Knesset.

The left-wing Meretz party is currently a hair short of the 3.25% vote minimum needed to win Knesset representation, with 3.2%.

The opposition Arab Balad party is also closing in on the threshold with 3.04% of total votes.

The Islamist Ra’am party, projected to win four seats in exit polls, is currently well over the electoral threshold at 4.33%, according to the current count, as is Hadash-Ta’al with 3.91%.

If Balad or Meretz fail to win Knesset representation it will further boost Netanyahu’s prospects for forming a coalition.

Ben Gvir: I’ll work for all the people of Israel, even those who hate me

Head of the Otzma Yehudit party MK Itamar Ben Gvir speaks to supporters as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, at the party's campaign headquarters in Jerusalem, November 1, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Head of the Otzma Yehudit party MK Itamar Ben Gvir speaks to supporters as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, at the party's campaign headquarters in Jerusalem, November 1, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Speaking to reporters, far-right Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben Gvir says he will work for all the people of Israel, “even those who hate me.”

Ben Gvir vows to be part of a “completely right-wing” government after partial results show his party the third biggest with 14 seats.

“But I want to say that I’ll work for all of Israel, even those who hate me,” he says.

IDF arrests 10 wanted Palestinians in overnight West Bank raids

Weapons and equipment seized by IDF troops in the West Bank, early November 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
Weapons and equipment seized by IDF troops in the West Bank, early November 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces says troops detained 10 wanted Palestinians and seized several weapons during overnight arrest raids across the West Bank.

The 10 have been taken by the Shin Bet security agency for further questioning.

The IDF says an M16 rifle and other firearms and military equipment were seized in several southern West Bank villages, and in Anata on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

The arrests come amid an ongoing IDF anti-terror offensive in the West Bank following a series of deadly Palestinian attacks earlier this year.

Labor party politician: Michaeli is a colossal failure, needs to go home

Labor party chief Merav Michaeli casts her ballot at a voting station in Tel Aviv on November 1, 2022 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Labor party chief Merav Michaeli casts her ballot at a voting station in Tel Aviv on November 1, 2022 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The Ynet news site quotes an unnamed senior Labor politician lashing out against party leader Merav Michaeli following Labor’s apparent poor showing in the election.

The party member says Labor was saved by party loyalists who voted for Labor despite Michaeli.

“We expect her to draw the obvious conclusions, otherwise we will send her home,” he says. “It is unbelievable that the Labor Party is struggling to cross the electoral threshold. Merav is a colossal failure, and disconnected from reality.”

With almost 85% of votes counted Netanyahu bloc on course for victory

Shas party head Aryeh Deri with supporters as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, in Jerusalem. November 1, 2022.(Yossi Zamir/Flash90 )
Shas party head Aryeh Deri with supporters as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, in Jerusalem. November 1, 2022.(Yossi Zamir/Flash90 )

With 84.3% of the votes counted, Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc continues to lead, and the left-wing Meretz party is on the cusp of crossing the threshold.

The Central Elections Committee has so far counted 4,081,243 votes, with 24,201 invalidated.

Based on the current count, Netanyahu’s bloc would pick up 65 seats, though this number may change as more ballots are processed.

Exit polls have predicted 62 seats for Netanyahu’s bloc, enough to secure a majority and form a coalition in the 120-seat Knesset.

The left-wing Meretz party is currently a hair short of the 3.25% vote minimum needed to win Knesset representation, with 3.2%.

The opposition Arab Balad party is also closing in on the threshold with 3.05% of total votes.

The Islamist Ra’am party, projected to win four seats in exit polls, is currently well over the electoral threshold at 4.35%, according to the current count, as is Hadash-Ta’al with 3.92%.

If Ra’am, Balad, or Meretz fail to win Knesset representation it will further boost Netanyahu’s prospects for forming a coalition, but if all three make it, it could stymie his chances.

The ongoing count is not representative of the overall vote since ballots come in from different areas of the country at different times, and the percentages allotted to each party will likely shift as the tally continues.

Man injured in car-ramming attack is an IDF officer

The IDF says that a man seriously injured in a car-ramming attack is an IDF officer.

Despite being seriously wounded, the officer managed to shoot and kill the attacker who got out of the vehicle and tried to attack him with an axe, the IDF says.

The officer is being treated in the hospital and his family has been informed, the military says.

With almost 80% of votes counted Netanyahu bloc headed for victory, Meretz on cusp

Meretz party supporters react as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, in Jerusalem November 1, 2022. (Flash90)
Meretz party supporters react as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, in Jerusalem November 1, 2022. (Flash90)

With just under 80% of the votes counted Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc continues to lead, and the left-wing Meretz party is on the cusp of crossing the threshold.

The Central Elections Committee has so far counted 3,863,484 votes, with 22,801 invalidated.

Based on the current count, Netanyahu’s bloc would pick up 65 seats, though this number will change as more ballots are processed.

Exit polls have predicted 62 seats for Netanyahu’s bloc, enough to secure a majority and form a coalition in the 120-seat Knesset.

The left-wing Meretz party is currently a hair short of the 3.25% vote minimum needed to win Knesset representation, with 3.23%, although some pollsters have predicted the party will pass and win four-five seats in the final tally.

The opposition Arab Balad party is also closing in on the threshold with 3.07% of total votes.

The Islamist Ra’am party, projected to win four seats in exit polls, is currently well over the electoral threshold at 4.25%, according to the current count, as is Hadash-Ta’al with 3.94%.

If Ra’am, Balad, or Meretz fail to win Knesset representation it will further boost Netanyahu’s prospects for forming a coalition, but if all three make it, it could stymie his chances.

The ongoing count is not representative of the overall vote since ballots come in from different areas of the country at different times, and the percentages allotted to each party will likely shift as the tally continues.

 

 

One person seriously wounded in suspected car-ramming attack

Medics at the scene of a suspected car-ramming attack on Route 443 between Beit Horon and Modiin on November 2, 2022 (United Hatzalah)
Medics at the scene of a suspected car-ramming attack on Route 443 between Beit Horon and Modiin on November 2, 2022 (United Hatzalah)

The Magen David Adom rescue service says one person is injured in a suspected car-ramming attack.

The victim, a man in his 20s, is being taken to Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem in serious condition.

The attack occured on Route 443 between the West Bank settlement of Beit Horon and the Maccabim checkpoint, near the entrance to the central city of Modiin.

IDF probing suspected car-ramming attack near Modiin, driver shot

Illustrative: Palestinians workers passing through the Maccabim Checkpoint on Route 443. June 07, 2009.  (Jorge Novominsky/Flash90)
Illustrative: Palestinians workers passing through the Maccabim Checkpoint on Route 443. June 07, 2009. (Jorge Novominsky/Flash90)

The IDF says it is investigating reports of a suspected car-ramming attack near the central city of Modiin.

The military says the incident occurred near the Maccabim checkpoint on Route 443 and the driver of the vehicle was shot and “neutralized.”

There are no immediate details on casualties.

With 70% of vote counted, Netanyahu bloc on course for win, Ra’am crosses threshhold

Ra'am party leader Masour Abbas at the campaign headquarters in the Arab Israeli town of Tamra, as the results of the Israeli elections are announced. November 1, 2022. (Flash90)
Ra'am party leader Masour Abbas at the campaign headquarters in the Arab Israeli town of Tamra, as the results of the Israeli elections are announced. November 1, 2022. (Flash90)

With just over 70% of the votes counted Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc continues to lead, and the Islamist Ra’am party crosses the threshold for the first time.

The Central Elections Committee has so far counted 3,451,440 votes, with 20,571 invalidated.

Based on the current count, Netanyahu’s bloc would pick up 67 seats, though this number will change as more ballots are processed.

Exit polls have predicted 62 seats for Netanyahu’s bloc, enough to secure a majority and form a coalition in the 120-seat Knesset.

The Islamist Ra’am party, projected to win four seats in exit polls, is currently over the electoral threshold for the first time at 3.86%, according to the current count.

The left-wing Meretz party is currently on the edge of the 3.25% vote minimum needed to win Knesset representation, with 3.05%, although some pollsters have predicted the party will pass and win four-five seats in the final tally.

The opposition Arab Balad party is also under the threshold with 2.69% of total votes.

If Ra’am, Balad, or Meretz fail to win Knesset representation it will further boost Netanyahu’s prospects for forming a coalition.

The ongoing count is not representative of the overall vote since ballots come in from different areas of the country at different times, and the percentages allotted to each party will likely shift as the tally continues.

Netanyahu’s bloc retains lead with over 60% of ballots counted

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu addresses supporters at the party's campaign headquarters in Jerusalem early on November 2, 2022, with his wife Sara at his side. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu addresses supporters at the party's campaign headquarters in Jerusalem early on November 2, 2022, with his wife Sara at his side. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The vote count is progressing at the Central Elections Committee, with 62 percent of the total ballots cast now tallied.

The committee has so far counted 3,020,710 votes.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc continues to lead, and based on the current count would pick up 69 seats, though this number will change as more ballots are processed.

Exit polls have predicted 62 seats for Netanyahu’s bloc, enough to secure a majority and form a coalition in the 120-seat Knesset.

The left-wing Meretz party is currently on the edge of the 3.25% vote minimum needed to win Knesset representation, with 3.17%, although some pollsters have predicted the party will pass and win around four-five seats in the final tally.

The Islamist Ra’am party, projected to win four seats in exit polls, is also under the electoral threshold at 2.47%, according to the current count.

The opposition Arab Balad party is also just under the threshold with 2.75% of total votes.

If Ra’am, Balad, or Meretz fail to win Knesset representation it will further boost Netanyahu’s prospects for forming a coalition.

The ongoing count is not representative of the overall vote since ballots come in from different areas of the country at different times, and the percentages allotted to each party will likely shift as the tally continues.

Meretz ‘cautiously optimistic’ as it hovers just below electoral threshold

Meretz MK Mossi Raz in the Knesset on June 22, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Meretz MK Mossi Raz in the Knesset on June 22, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Meretz MK Mossi Raz says he is “cautiously optimistic” as the current vote count sees his party at 3.24 percent, just 0.01 percentage points under the number needed to win Knesset representation.

“What we are seeing are partial results, we maintain cautious optimism. It may end better and it may be worse,” Raz tells Army Radio.

“We will continue to represent our voters, even if outside the coalition or outside the Knesset,” he adds.

At 44% of the votes counted Meretz is under the electoral threshold, but some pollsters have predicted the party will pass and win around 4-5 seats in the final tally.

UTJ lawmaker tells opposing bloc: ‘We’re not animals like you’

UTJ MK Yitzhak Pindrus attends the Knesset House Committee's hearing on declaring now-former Yamina MK Amichai Shikli a defector from his party, April 25, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
UTJ MK Yitzhak Pindrus attends the Knesset House Committee's hearing on declaring now-former Yamina MK Amichai Shikli a defector from his party, April 25, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

MK Yitzhak Pindrus of the Haredi United Torah Judaism party tells his political opponents “we’re not animals like you” in a message apparently meant to assuage the opposing bloc.

Pindrus speaks to the Ynet news site as polls and early vote counts predict a victory for Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc, which includes Pindrus’s UTJ party.

“We won’t treat you cruelly like you treated us,” Pindrus says in a message to his political opponents.

“We’re civilized people, not animals like you. In the government you stole, you treated us, you walked all over us. You thought we were just rags. We’re human beings,” he says.

“We will treat you well, we won’t persecute you, we won’t harass you,” he says. “We’ll take care of our rights, but we won’t look for where we can harass you a little bit, where we can do you harm. We’re not like you. You have problems? Look in the mirror, not at us.”

With over 2 million votes counted, Likud-led bloc continues to hold lead

Electoral official arrange ballots in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba during Israeli elections, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Electoral official arrange ballots in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba during Israeli elections, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc continues to lead as the Central Elections Committee count ballots.

The committee has tallied 2,147,301 votes during the overnight count, amounting to 44.4 percent of the total.

The ongoing count is not representative of the overall vote since ballots come in from different areas of the country at different times, and the percentages allotted to each party will likely shift as the tally continues.

The left-wing Meretz party is currently on the edge of the 3.25 percent vote minimum needed to win Knesset representation with 3.24%, although some pollsters have predicted the party will pass and win around 4-5 seats in the final tally.

The Arab Balad party is also just under the threshold with 3.11% of total votes.

If either Balad or Meretz fails to win Knesset representation it will further boost Netanyahu’s prospects for forming a coalition.

Based on the current vote count, Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc would pick up 68 seats, though this number will change as more ballots are processed.

Exit polls have predicted 62 seats for Netanyahu’s bloc, enough to secure a majority and form a coalition in the 120-seat Knesset.

Likud MK says 1st decision by potential coalition is bill to override High Court

Likud MK Miki Zohar arrives for a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on May 6, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Likud MK Miki Zohar arrives for a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on May 6, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Likud MK Miki Zohar says the first order of business for a potential new government led by the party with other right-wing and religious parties is the passage of a bill allowing the Knesset to override High Court of Justice rulings.

Speaking to Channel 12 news, Zohar says: “We want to govern, so the main thing we will do is enact the override clause.”

But the Likud issues a statement saying Zohar’s proposal is “his personal opinion only.”

Responding, Zohar, who is 10th on the Likud slate, says he does not see himself as part of the coalition if it doesn’t include the clause.

The so-called override bill would give the Knesset the ability to reverse High Court decisions in cases where the bench strikes down new laws.

Such a measure has long been a goal of right-wing and ultra-Orthodox politicians, who have seen the court strike down measures regarding West Bank land appropriation, migrant detentions and ultra-Orthodox military enlistment deferrals.

Right-wing lawmakers have also touted the controversial proposal as a tool to shield Netanyahu from corruption charges he is on trial for.

Meretz and Ra’am slip under threshold with 34% of votes counted

Meretz party supporters react as election exit polls are announced, in Jerusalem November 1, 2022. (Flash90)
Meretz party supporters react as election exit polls are announced, in Jerusalem November 1, 2022. (Flash90)

The vote count is progressing at the Central Elections Committee, with 34.3 percent of the total ballots cast now tallied.

The ongoing count is not representative of the overall vote since ballots come in from different areas of the country at different times, and the percentages allotted to each party will likely shift as the tally continues.

The left-wing Meretz party is currently under the 3.25 percent vote minimum needed to win Knesset representation with 2.67%, although some pollsters have predicted the party will pass and win around 4-5 seats in the final tally.

A Channel 12 pollster says Meretz is perilously close to the threshold and may slip below it.

The Islamist Ra’am party, projected to win 4 seats in exit polls, is also under the electoral threshold at 3.09%, according to the current count.

According to exit polls, the opposition Arab party Balad is not projected to win any seats. The current vote count sees them at 3.14%, hovering just beneath the electoral threshold.

Based on the current vote count, Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc would pick up 72 seats, though this number will change as more ballots are processed.

Exit polls have predicted 62 seats for Netanyahu’s bloc, enough to secure a majority and form a coalition in the 120-seat Knesset.

The committee has so far counted 1,672,421 votes.

Coalition officials slam Lapid’s ‘reckless’ campaign, call him a ‘cannibalistic pig’

Israeli Prime Minister and head of the Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid arrives to address supporters at campaign headquarters in Tel Aviv early on November 2, 2022, after the end of voting for national elections. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Israeli Prime Minister and head of the Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid arrives to address supporters at campaign headquarters in Tel Aviv early on November 2, 2022, after the end of voting for national elections. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Officials in Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s governing coalition slam him for his election campaign, as exit polls and initial results show Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc winning a majority of the seats in the Knesset.

“Lapid acted recklessly, did not manage the bloc, did not take care of the Arabs, did not take care of the surplus agreements,” unnamed officials are cited by Channel 12 news as saying. Surplus agreements allow parties that cross the electoral threshold to share votes, potentially adding a seat to one of the parties in the agreement.

“[He] behaved like a cannibalistic pig who came to eliminate [other parties] in order to be the biggest party, and here is the result,” the officials say of Lapid.

According to exit polls, the Labor party in Lapid’s bloc is predicted to win between 5 and 6 seats, while Meretz is predicted to win 4-5, close to the 3.25 percent vote minimum needed to win Knesset representation.

The Islamist Ra’am party, also part of the coalition, is projected to win 4 seats.

The opposition Arab party Balad is hovering just beneath the electoral threshold, according to the exit polls. Should it squeak into the Knesset, it would swing four seats away from the other parties, and could conceivably leave both the Netanyahu bloc and the outgoing coalition bloc short of a majority. Channel 12’s pollster has said that Meretz is perilously close to the threshold, however, and might slip below it.

Lapid’s Yesh Atid party meanwhile will take 22-24 seats according to the exit polls, becoming the second largest party behind Netanyahu’s Likud, which is predicted to take 30-31 seats.

During the campaign, Lapid largely directed voters to support his Yesh Atid party, and not the smaller factions in his coalition. Labor refused Meretz’s entreaties to agree to a merger, putting both at risk of not making it into the Knesset.

The Arab Joint List, which is not aligned with either bloc, broke apart into Hadash-Ta’al and Balad ahead of the election, diluting the Arab vote and giving an edge to Netanyahu.

Netanyahu’s bloc leading as over 20 percent of ballots counted

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu addresses supporters at the party's campaign headquarters in Jerusalem early on November 2, 2022, with his wife Sara at his side. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu addresses supporters at the party's campaign headquarters in Jerusalem early on November 2, 2022, with his wife Sara at his side. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The vote count is progressing at the Central Elections Committee, with 20.7 percent of the total ballots cast now tallied.

Based on the current vote count, Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc would pick up 72 seats, though this number will change as more ballots are processed.

Exit polls have predicted 62 seats for Netanyahu’s bloc, enough to secure a majority and form a coalition in the 120-seat Knesset.

The committee has so far counted 1,001,993 votes.

Netanyahu promises ‘a national government,’ says he’ll act to heal internal rifts

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu addresses supporters at the party's campaign headquarters in Jerusalem early on November 2, 2022, with his wife Sara at his side. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu addresses supporters at the party's campaign headquarters in Jerusalem early on November 2, 2022, with his wife Sara at his side. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Netanyahu calls the Likud’s election performance “a huge expression of faith.”

“I’m not the king,” he says, as chants of “Bibi, king of Israel” ring out again. “I need to be elected, and I will be elected, thanks to you.”

He hails Likud as “by far the biggest party in Israel,” and congratulates “our partners in the national camp” on their electoral performance.

He says the vote shows that the Israeli people “want security, a reduced cost of living — it wants strength, it doesn’t want weakness…”

He vows “to restore the national pride that’s been taken from us.”

Netanyahu stresses Israel as a Jewish state, but does not specify Israel as a democracy: The people, he says, “want a Jewish state — a state that respects its citizens, but this is a Jewish state,” he repeats. “Our national state, that we dreamed of and fought for, and spilled seas of tears and blood to achieve.”

The people, he goes on, “want a stable government, an experienced government… a prime minister who looks after our soldiers, our police.”

He promises to be “very aggressive in protecting our security and in the search for peace with our neighbors — with concern for all citizens.”

He says he insists on “full electoral integrity” — with Likud having earlier filed a police complaint over alleged voting irregularities in the Arab sector.

As for the nature of the coalition he’ll establish, Netanyahu promises that “if the actual results reflect the exit polls, I’ll set up a national government that will look after all the citizens of Israel, without exception, because the state is all of ours.”

He does not specify which parties will be in this coalition, but that formulation, and the election arithmetic, indicate that it will be comprised of Likud’s natural partners — the far-right Religious Zionism, and the ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism.

“We’ll restore security, we’ll cut the cost of living, we’ll widen the circle of peace even further, we’ll restore Israel as a rising power among the nations,” he says.

“We have one state, one destiny, one future,” he says.

In the most conciliatory passage of his address, he also promises to “act to lower the flames of public discourse; to heal the rifts — not only to widen the peace with our neighbors, but also to restore the internal peace within.”

Netanyahu: Need to wait for final results, but ‘we’re on the cusp of a very big victory’

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to address supporters at the party's campaign headquarters in Jerusalem early on November 2, 2022. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP)
Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to address supporters at the party's campaign headquarters in Jerusalem early on November 2, 2022. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP)

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu addresses supporters from his Likud party following exit polls that forecast a majority for his right-religious bloc.

As Netanyahu greets the party’s lawmakers, many in the crowd chant “Bibi is back,” and “Bibi, king of Israel,” as they cheer the prospect of his return to the Prime Minister’s Office.

“Today, we received an incredible expression of support,” he says of the expected results for Likud, while also touting the overall results for his bloc.

With vote counting still at an early stage, he calls on his supporters to wait until the final results, but says, “we are on the cusp of a very big victory.”

“The nation wanted a different a way, a different government,” he continues. “The nation wanted a government that will look out for it.”

Over 5 percent of ballots counted, with Netanyahu’s bloc leading

Vote counting is progressing at the Central Elections Committee, with 5.3 percent of the total ballots cast now tallied.

Based on the current vote count, Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc would pick up 67 seats, though this number is due to change as more ballots are processed.

Netanyahu due to give speech at Likud’s post-election event

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu is currently heading to his Likud party’s post-election event in Jerusalem, where he is due to speak.

Exit polls showed a narrow majority for Netanyahu and his right-religious bloc.

“The night is still young,” Netanyahu tells reporters before departing for the event.

Pro-Netanyahu bloc now at 62 seats in all the exit polls

The pro-Netanyahu bloc grows to 62 seats in Channel 12’s updated exit poll, after Likud grows a seat at Yesh Atid’s expense.

Exit polls published by the three main television networks now all have the right-religious bloc at 62 seats, though those forecasts can change as more and more ballots are tallied.

Lapid: ‘Nothing is over’ until the last vote counted

Prime Minister and head of the Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid addresses supporters at campaign headquarters in Tel Aviv early on November 2, 2022, after the end of voting for national elections. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Prime Minister and head of the Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid addresses supporters at campaign headquarters in Tel Aviv early on November 2, 2022, after the end of voting for national elections. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Though exit polls are forecasting a loss for the outgoing coalition he led, Prime Minister Yair Lapid insists “nothing is over” until all the votes are counted.

“Over the last year and half there was a government here of fair, upright and good people, who worked hard and created something unprecedented,” Lapid says at his Yesh Atid party’s post-election event. He says it represented all Israelis rather than sectors of the populace. “We have no intention of stopping.”

“Every Israeli needs to know tonight that we’ll continue to fight for Israel to be a Jewish and democratic state, liberal and advanced,” Lapid says.

US Jewish groups largely mum as exit polls show far-right surge

American Jewish groups mostly stay mum on tonight’s exit polls showing a major win for the far-right Religious Zionism Party, whose rise has been a source of significant concern for many US Jews.

CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations William Daroff told the English-language i24 news channel that he was withholding comment until the full results come in but that American Jewry needed to “respect democracy.”

“Exit polls are just that. They’re just polls,” Daroff says. “If [opposition leader Benjamin] Netanyahu is the prime minister, we will work with him. But it’s early in the process.”

Asked specifically about the Religious Zionism Party, which is projected to be the third-largest party in the next Knesset and the second-largest party in a possible coalition, Daroff says it is too soon to comment. “When that coalition comes together, and we won’t know that tonight or tomorrow, we’ll engage at that time,” he says, adding: “I do think it’s important that the concerns of the Diaspora are in the mix.”

The pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC, which denounced the Otzma Yehudit faction of the party as “racist and reprehensible” ahead of the March 2019 elections, refuses to comment on whether it still holds that assessment of the party today.

The Anti-Defamation League, which last month warned that some members of the party have “Kahane-inspired extremist ideologies,” says it is not yet prepared to make a comment on the matter.

The left-wing Americans for Peace Now organization, however, is unequivocal in raising its concerns over a potential right-wing coalition that includes the Religious Zionist Party.

“If it materializes, such a coalition would have horrendous implications,” the group says in a statement. “Along with a threat to security and stability, Israel’s relations with its allies, including with the United States, would suffer a deep crisis. Estrangement and alienation among American Jews would reach unprecedented levels.”

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