Religious Zionism dances as exit polls surpass expectations

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Religious Zionism’s party headquarters erupt in celebration as exit polls indicate that the alliance of far-right factions not only managed to cross the electoral threshold, but outperformed expectations and put it in place to become a major player in the next Knesset.

Religious Zionism will have seven seats in the upcoming Knesset, according to exit polls from Channel 12, Channel 13 and the Kan public broadcaster. The result would be far stronger than the four-five seats polls had been predicting for weeks. The results would put both neo-Kahanist Itamar Ben-Gvir and anti-LGBT canddiate Avi Maoz in the Knesset.

Moreover, the pro-Netanyahu bloc of religious, right-wing parties of Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism, and Yamina will have just enough seats to form a 61-member coalition, if exit poll results are accurate.

Dozens of young supporters of the party broke out in dance as one exit poll after another offered generous results for Religious Zionism.

The activists cheered Smotrich’s name for several minutes in the Modi’in ballroom before calming down and quietly soaking the results in. Party chairman Bezalel Smotrich is not slated to address supporters until later in the evening.