Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked’s New Right party berated the Central Election Committee for publishing final election results that leave the right-wing party out of the next Knesset, saying the authority’s statement on Tuesday was “rushed” and that the party was weighing its next moves.
The panel published its final tally on Tuesday, which will be presented to President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday.
“There were discrepancies found in 8 percent of the ballot boxes, including unequivocal evidence of grave election fraud,” the New Right party charged. “Unfortunately, we asked the committee to wait with the press release until the probe is over, but the urgency to publish was more important than sticking to the facts.”
The CEC dismissed the allegation of fraud, and slammed the party for undermining public faith in the electoral process. “The New Right’s media statements are baseless and are made out of understandable distress,” the committee said in a statement. “The claims are unfounded and are undermining public trust in the election results, as well as being inconsistent.”
In recent days several parties, including the New Right and United Torah Judaism, had complained to the committee over what they believed were mishandled ballot boxes or other problems at one or more of the country’s 10,000-plus polling stations on election day.
The CEC said it had examined claims of irregularities and counting errors by New Right, and looked into the count at dozens of polling stations cited by Bennett.
The committee said its teams had worked throughout Monday and through the night to examine the claims and found no substantial errors. In fact, it said it had found the party had been mistakenly awarded three votes too many.
Channel 13 reported earlier this week that Bennett personally led a team of over 100 volunteers in a search for the allegedly missing ballots at storage warehouse in the central city of Shoham on Sunday. Later, the committee released a statement saying that other than one uncounted ballot, Bennett and his team did not find any “missing” votes for the New Right.
Despite predictions that the party would have a major role in the next government, New Right had one of the most disappointing performances of the 2019 election, narrowly failing to cross the 3.25% threshold by a little over 1,000 votes.
The two popular pro-settler ministers split from their religious-nationalist Jewish Home party and sought to appeal to new secular voters, but the maneuver backfired, leaving them out of the Knesset.
The Central Elections Committee on Tuesday also said the United Torah Judaism party had received an additional Knesset seat at the expense of Likud, in final election results. UTJ now has eight seats, while Likud is down to 35 — the same number as the Blue and White party.
As representatives of the right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties endorsed Benjamin Netanyahu for prime minister, the president said his choice was now “all but certain” and he is expected to entrust the task of forming a government to Netanyahu, who is likely to be able to build a coalition of up to 65 seats comprising Likud (35 seats), the ultra-Orthodox Shas (8), United Torah Judaism (8), Union of Right-Wing Parties (5), Kulanu (4), and, likely, Yisrael Beytenu (5).
Netanyahu secured majority backing of 65 of the 120 Knesset members earlier on Tuesday.