Will haredi party lose Knesset seat four months after election?

UTJ party poised to lose one of its Knesset seats after court-ordered partial recount finds inconsistencies in Jerusalem ballot boxes.

David Rosenberg ,

Yitzhak Pindros
Yitzhak Pindros
Hadas Parush/Flash90

With new elections just two months away, a last minute change to the results of the previous elections could be coming.

Following a court-ordered recount of a number of ballot boxes in Jerusalem on Wednesday, the Israel Central Elections Committee has found a number of inconsistencies in the vote count, leading to slightly altered vote totals for the 21st Knesset election.

While such changes would typically have no impact on the outcome of an election in which more than 4.3 million votes were cast, the razor-thin margin for the United Torah Judaism party’s eighth seat in the April 9th election leaves it vulnerable.

UTJ received eight seats in the election by the exceptionally narrow margin of 72 votes.

The UTJ’s eighth seat came at the expense of the Likud, which fell from 36 projected seats to 35 in the final results in mid-April.

That seemed to be it the end of the story, especially after the Central Election Committee verified the official results and submitted them to President Reuven Rivlin.

However, Amit Halevy, the candidate on the Likud’s 36th Knesset slot appealed the final results, turning to the Jerusalem district court, arguing that suspicions of inconsistencies in the vote counts at some predominantly haredi polling stations could have given UTJ its 72-vote margin, securing its eighth seat at the expense of his own.

The Jerusalem District Court accepted Halevy’s petition, ordering the Central Election Committee to review the results from the ballot boxes in question.

On Wednesday night, the Central Election Committee completed its examination and found that UTJ’s vote total had been boosted enough to secure its eighth seat.

The new final vote count – which is considered definitive – does not automatically alter the allocation of seats in the 21st Knesset, which has been serving since April.

The petition to strip UTJ of one of its seats and transfer it to the Likud must receive approval from the court.

If the court rules in favor of Halevy and transfers the seat, UTJ is expected to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, Behadrei Haredim reported.

Should the courts find in favor of Halevy prior to the seating of the 22nd Knesset after the September 17th election, the Likud candidate will take the place of the sitting UTJ Knesset member, Yitzhak Pindros.

A first-term Knesset member and former mayor of Beitar Illit, Pindros later served as a Jerusalem city councilman, before running for the Knesset.