Seeking Critical Seat, Netanyahu Tries to Disqualify Joint List Votes

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly formed a team to search for “potential mistakes and problems” with votes for the Joint List, with the aim of winning an additional seat for the Likud at the expense of Hadash, Balad and Ta’al, and thereby shift the Knesset balance in his favor. Netanyahu’s  team is made up of Likud MK Amit Halevi, Religious Zionism MK-to-be Simcha Rothman and lawyer Michael Rabilo.

Joint List voters in southTel Aviv

Joint List voters in southTel Aviv (Photo: Zo Haderech)

Support for Netanyahu’s Likud party dropped significantly in traditional strongholds in last Tuesday’s national elections, in which, once again, the premier and his far-right religious allies fell short of a majority, this for the fourth time in two years.

According to final results released Thursday, the Likud received 1,066,595 votes in the March 23 elections, making it the largest party in the Knesset with 30 seats. However, this figure marks a steep decline of more than 21% (285,854 fewer votes) compared with the 1,352,449 votes it garnered in the March 2020 elections. Then the Likud won 36 Knesset seats, the best-ever finish for the party under Netanyahu’s leadership.

While Likud’s support decreased throughout Israel compared to the election results a year ago, this pattern was particularly pronounced in the country’s four largest cities, where the vote tallies for Netanyahu’s party fell as follows: by 29.4% in Jerusalem from, 72,601 to 51,237 (down 21,364 votes); by 23.6% in Tel Aviv, from 58,363 to 44,573 (down 13,790 votes); by 23.9% in Haifa, from 38,464 to 29,269 (down 9,195 votes); and by nearly 22.5% in Beersheba, from 49,801 to 38,604 (down 11,197 votes). In these four cities combined, support for the Likud fell by 25.7%, or 56,546 votes fewer than the votes it garnered a year ago.