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Dramatic count of soldiers’ votes underway in Beit Shemesh mayoral race

Election officials are counting some 1,000 votes of soldiers that could decide whether Beit Shemesh mayor Moshe Abutbul will lose his seat to rival Dr. Aliza Bloch.

The city’s mayoral vote has turned out to be one of the tightest and most tense races in the country, with votes too close to call even with 99 percent of the ballots counted.

Only 251 votes separated the two candidates, with the ultra-Orthodox Abutbul narrowly ahead after the lead switched sides several times throughout the night.

Beit Shemesh mayoral candidate Moshe Abutbul, the incumbent, casts his ballot at a voting station during the municipal elections, on October 30, 2018, in Beit Shemesh. (Yaakov Lederman/Flash90)

Now, the result rests on the votes of soldiers and those of other residents who were unable to vote at a local polling station.

The approximately 1,000 votes are expected to be weighted heavily in favor of Bloch, who as a religious-Zionist candidate is in favor of the military draft, as opposed to the incumbent mayor of the polarized city.

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