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With most votes counted, Likud holds lead in south, Lapid ahead in Tel Aviv

Liberman sees jump in support in Druze areas; United Torah Judaism leads in Jerusalem; Arab community mostly supports Joint List

A polling station for people that is under quarantine in Jerusalem, during the Knesset Elections, on March 23, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
A polling station for people that is under quarantine in Jerusalem, during the Knesset Elections, on March 23, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

With most votes counted, data showed the vote breaking along familiar lines, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party leading in southern cities, the centrist Yesh Atid faction ahead in Tel Aviv and ultra-Orthodox parties receiving strong support in Jerusalem.

The Central Elections Committee said it had counted 89 percent of votes as of Wednesday night and had begun counting some 450,000 absentee ballots.

Avigdor Liberman’s right-wing, secularist Yisrael Beytenu did surprisingly well with Druze voters, with 31% of votes in Isfiya, a jump from the last election, when the party won only 8% of votes in the Druze town.

In the Druze town of Daliyat al-Karmel, 26% of votes counted so far have gone to Liberman, and in Beit Jann, 34.2%.

Likud was ahead in nearly every large city in southern Israel — 42% in Eilat, 42% in Beersheba, 40% in Ashkelon and 30.62% in Ashdod.

Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party was ahead in Tel Aviv with some 22% of the votes, while his support in Jerusalem was just 5.5%.

Voters in Jerusalem supported ultra-Orthodox parties and Likud, with 23.47% of the votes going to United Torah Judaism and 15.85% to Shas. Likud was in between the two with 20.76%.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to his supporters after the first exit poll results for the Israeli parliamentary elections, at his Likud party’s headquarters in Jerusalem, March. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, file)

In Tel Aviv, Shas and UTJ won just 3.67% and 0.78% of the votes respectively.

UTJ led the count in many ultra-Orthodox locales — 78% in Modi’in Illit, 60.92% in Bnei Brak, 59.81% in Beitar Illit, and 36.29% in Beit Shemesh. Shas was in second place in those towns.

In Haifa, Likud had 21% of the vote and Yesh Atid 19.5%

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz managed to garner the support of just 10.65% of voters in his hometown of Rosh Ha’ayin, while Netanyahu has 30.5% of the votes in the central city.

In the West Bank city of Ariel, Likud had 39% of the vote, followed by Yesh Atid with 9%.

In the Arab community, most voters supported the Joint List alliance over the breakaway Ra’am faction led by Mansour Abbas. In Umm al-Fahm the Joint List had 80.31% of the votes, with 14% going to Abbas’ party. Just 143 people voted for Likud in the Arab city, or 1.37%.

The Central Elections Committee on Wednesday night began counting some 450,000 absentee ballots, and said it hoped to conclude the tally by Friday morning.

The ballots account for some 10% of the national vote, and could yet determine whether Netanyahu is able to form a new government, whether his rivals do so, or whether the political gridlock continues and Israel heads for yet another election after four inconclusive rounds.

As of 11 p.m., nearly all regular votes had been tallied, with only a few polling stations’ results still outstanding.

With some 89% of the vote tallied, Netanyahu’s Likud would win 30 seats, Shas 9, UTJ 7, and the Religious Zionism party 6. That would give the pro-Netanyahu bloc a total of just 52 seats, still short of a majority even if Yamina were to join with its 7 seats.

On the other side of the aisle, the parties that have vowed to oppose Netanyahu forming the next coalition have 56 seats. Ra’am, with five, has not made a commitment either way.

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