Naftali Bennett is the new leader of the Jewish Home party, according to final results from the party’s primaries which were held on Tuesday.
After all the votes at all polling stations were counted, Bennett won 67% of the votes. His rival, MK Zevulun Orlev, achieved 32%. The results do not include the votes of some 1,500 yeshiva students which will be counted and added to the tally later.
Preliminary results had shown Bennett with 70% to Orlev's 30%.
The outgoing chairman of the Jewish Home party, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz, called Bennett shortly before midnight and told him, “The public decided. I hope you can steer the great ship of the national religious community and I intend to help you with it.”
Orlev announced that he is retiring from political life. He called Bennett and wished him luck as the party leader.
The National Union party, which will be running for the Knesset in a joint list with the Jewish Home, congratulated Bennett on his win.
“Now it's time to move on to the real task, which we began with a few weeks ago, to unite the power within religious Zionism and bring those wearing the knitted kippot back to the center of the political stage," said a statement by the party.
The polls closed at 10:00 p.m. local time as expected, but the party’s election committee ordered to extend the voting time by half an hour in four yeshivas.
Rabbi Dr. Danny Tropper, Chairman of the Jewish Home’s registration and elections committee, rejected on Tuesday evening a request by Bennett to extend the vote by one hour.
Bennett had asked to extend the vote and end it at 11:00 p.m., due to the long lines and problems in the yeshivas, where students were supposed to be allowed to vote in polling stations near the yeshivas rather than near their homes, but there were some technical mixups.
The final results will be announced on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. in a special press conference at Beit Sokolov in Tel Aviv.