Netanyahu following election win
Netanyahu following election winYonatan Sindel/Flash90

The Likud is projected to gain one mandate over the initial post-election vote count, pushing it from 35 to 36 seats, after the counting of special ballots was completed Thursday, Israeli media outlets reported Thursday afternoon.

Special ballots, which make up some five percent of the nearly 4.3 million votes cast in Tuesday’s election, include the votes of Israeli soldiers stationed at bases across the country, prisoners in jails and detention facilities, voters in Israeli hospitals, and members of the Foreign Ministry overseas service.

The preliminary results of the full county of all ballots cast in the election show the Likud likely to pick up an extra seat over the early forecasts which did not include the special votes, Maariv and Israel Hayom reported.

If the Likud does in fact gain the extra seat, as projected, it would become the largest faction in the Knesset with 36 seats, compared to 35 for the center-left Blue and White party.

The balance between the right-wing – religious bloc (65 seats) and the left-wing – Arab bloc (55 seats) remains unchanged, however, as the Likud's seat comes at the expense of the haredi United Torah Judaism party, which will fall from eight to seven.

Despite reports that Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s New Right faction had cleared the 3.25% electoral threshold, the full count of the special ballots shows his faction falling just short of the minimum threshold, with some 138,000 votes, or slightly over 1,000 votes below the bare minimum required to enter the Knesset.

A glitch on the Central Elections Committee website had mistakenly undercounted the total number of votes cast, overestimating each party’s vote share slightly and thus showing the New Right barely passing the threshold.

The New Right called for a recount of special ballots, citing irregularities in the counting process.

The current projections for each party are as follows (the previous projections, not including the special ballots, are in parentheses).

Likud: 36 (35)

Blue and White 35 (35)

Shas: 8 (8)

UTJ: 7 (8)

Labor: 6 (6)

Hadash-Ta’al: 6 (6)

Yisrael Beytenu: 5 (5)

Kulanu 4 (4)

United Right: 5 (5)

Meretz: 4 (4)

United Arab List-Balad: 4 (4)

New Right: 0 (0)

Zehut: 0 (0)

Gesher: 0 (0)