According to the near final results of the votes of soldiers, diplomats, and prisoners that were being tallied Thursday morning, Jewish Home will be awarded a 12th Knesset seat, making it the fourth largest faction in the Israeli parliament. The seat will come at the expense of Arab party Ra'am-Ta'al, which goes down to four seats.
With the twelfth seat, Bayit Yehudi, the representative party of the National Religious sector, matches the sector's historic record number of Knesset seats, achieved in 1977, when the National Religious Party received 12 Knesset seats. At that time, there was no Shas party, which was one of the main reasons for the party's going down in the following elections, so that the return to 12 seats is really a significant upward shift..
With the extra seat, the traditional “right-left” balance now falls on the side of the traditional right parties. Altogether, the Likud, Jewish Home, Shas, and United Torah Jewry have 61 Knesset seats between them. In recent days, media pundits had been promoting the idea that there was a 60-60 deadlock between left and right, but that included the Arab parties, who have never been in a coalition and are 11 of the so-called "left-bloc" seats.
The illusion of a deadlock was broken Wednesday night, when Yair Lapid stated categorically that he did not consider himself a member of the “left bloc,” and that he would not join a bloc along with Arab MK Hanin Zoabi – who participated in the 2010 flotilla in which Hamas-allied terrorists attacked IDF soldiers - and would not stand in the way of a government to be formed by Binyamin Netanyahu, as Tsippi Livni and Shelly Yechimovich of Labor had pledged to do.
The twelfth Jewish Home MK is Shuly Muallem, a resident of Gush Etzion and the widow of IDF officer Moshe Muallem, who was killed in a tragic IDF helicopter accident in 1997. Muallem is the deputy chairperson of the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization. Speaking to Arutz Sheva Thursday, Muallem said that “it was the votes of the soldiers that got me into the Knesset. As a widow of an IDF officer, I pledge to continue my activities on behalf of soldiers, and ensure that all Israeli share in the burden of serving and defending the country.”