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Israel Election 2021
An Israeli soldier casts his early vote at the Golani military base in Kafr Qara near Haifa, on March 17, 2021. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images)

Israel Election 2021

March 24, 2021 6:10 p.m.
Double-envelope counting begins, unofficial results expected Friday
The Media Line Staff

The counting of the double-envelope ballots, which include the votes of soldiers, diplomats and hospital patients, as well as those isolated due to the coronavirus, began early Wednesday evening and is expected to be completed on Thursday.

Unofficial results of Tuesdays election are expected to be made public on Friday, according to reports.

Meanwhile, the Central Elections Committee announced that results from 180 polling stations are being recalculated after a technical issue in the way they were initially counted.

March 24, 2021 12:35 p.m.
Ra'am party to enter Knesset
The Media Line Staff

The Ra’am (United Arab List) Party has crossed the electoral threshold and, with 89% of the vote counted, is poised to enter the Knesset with five seats. The party has garnered enough seats that it will not fall below the cutoff of four seats, according to reports.

Party head Mansour Abbas could push either the pro-Netanyahu or anti-Netanyahu blocs to a majority in a coalition government.

“We will not be in anyone’s pocket. We want to be partners in government, but we will not sit with anyone who will marginalize us,” he told the Kan national broadcaster.

In an interview on Wednesday morning with Radio 103FM, Mansour said that:  “If there is an offer, we’ll sit and talk.” He also said: “We are willing to negotiate with both sides, with anyone interested in forming a government and who views themselves as a future prime minister.”

Meanwhile, Kan reported that Opposition Leader Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, which garnered the second highest number of seats in Tuesday’s election, will be meeting in the coming days to discuss moving forward in forming a new government.

March 24, 2021 10:00 a.m.
With 87% of vote counted, Netanyahu bloc at 59 seats
The Media Line Staff

Twelve hours after the close of polls in Israel, and with 87% of the vote counted, the pro-Netanyahu bloc of parties is at 59 seats and the Ra’am party of Mansour Abbas has entered the Knesset with 5 seats. The totals do not include the double-envelope ballots cast by diplomats, soldiers, hospital patients and those isolated due to the coronavirus.

The new tally has Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party at 30 seats; Opposition Leader Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party at 17 seats; Shas at 9 seats; Blue and White at 8 seats; Labor at 7 seats; Yamina at 7 seats; United Torah Judaism at 7 seats; Yisrael Beitenu at 7 seats; Joint List at 6 seats; Religious Zionism at 6 seats; New Hope at 6 seats; Meretz at 5 seats; and Ra’am at 5 seats.

March 24, 2021 9 a.m.
Netanyahu calls for stable government
The Media Line Staff

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called on the heads of the other political parties to join him in a coalition government in order to avoid a fifth election.

“The state needs a stable government, not one based on personal ambitions… We cannot drag Israel to another election, to a fifth election. We need a stable government now,” Netanyahu said in a speech to his supporters at 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday, hours after the polls closed in Israel.

“I don’t disqualify anyone from sitting with me, because the state of Israel demands a stable government,” he said.

March 24, 2021 1:41 a.m.
Reports of Blue and White's demise were premature, Gantz says
The Media Line Staff

Blue and White Party head Benny Gantz told his supporters early Wednesday morning that though there were many who “eulogized” their party, “we chose to fight, and we will continue to struggle for our values and remain part of the national leadership.”

Exit polls show Blue and White with up to seven seats, after achieving 33 seats in the last election and becoming a partner in the ruling government coalition, The party broke up after Gantz agreed to join Netanyahu as Alternate Prime Minister, leaving it with 12 seats.

Following the closing of the polls on Tuesday evening, Gantz said in a statement that “I’ll do my best to unite the pro-change block. And if we are forced to face a fifth round of elections, I will vigilantly protect our democracy, rule of law and security. Because Israel comes first.”

March 24, 2021 1:27 a.m.
Updated results show Netanyahu short of majority
The Media Line Staff

Updated exit poll results seem to indicate that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be unable to form a majority government coalition, even with the support of Naftali Bennett and his Yamina party.

Israel’s Kan national broadcaster, Israel’s Channel 11, released revised exit poll numbers showing the Likud party at only 30 seats, and Bennett’s Yamina dropping to 7 seats. It also shows the Ra’am party of Masour Abbas entering the Knesset with 4 seats.

The new numbers give the pro-Netanyahu bloc 52 seats, and only 59 seats with the support of Yamina, which is not enough to form a government.

Channel 12 reports similar changes.

March 24, 2021 1:08 a.m.
Lapid: There won't be a government based on votes of 'racists and homophobes'
The Media Line Staff

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid told the supporters of his Yesh Atid party that “tonight we can be proud of the way we handled ourselves and of the result.” He noted that Yesh Atid went from being the fourth largest party in Israel to the second largest, with exit polls predicting that the party will have up to 18 votes.

“At the moment, Netanyahu doesn’t have 61 seats but the change bloc does. We’ll wait for the final results but as it stands there won’t be a government based on the votes of the racists and homophobes. I’ve started speaking to party leaders and we’ll wait for the results but we’ll do everything to create a sane government in Israel,” Lapid said.

Lapid and Yesh Atid broke away from the Blue and White party and went into the opposition when Benny Gantz decided to join the coalition government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

March 24, 2021 12:48 a.m.
Yamina will wait for final results before choosing a side, Bennett says
The Media Line Staff

Yamina party head Naftali Bennett, who stands to be this election’s kingmaker, received a phone call from Binyamin Netanyahu but reportedly told the prime minister that he and his party will wait for the final results of Tuesday’s election. Yamina received up to 8 seats in exit polls immediately after the end of voting. Both the pro-Netanyahu and anti-Netanyahu blocs need Yamina’s Knesset seats in order to form a government coalition.
In an address to his supporters a couple hours after the close of the polls, Bennett would not commit to supporting Netanyahu. He also said that the country needs to undergo a healing process, adding that “a real right-winger doesn’t hate, he unites.”
Shortly after the polls closed, Bennett said in a statement: “I will do only what’s good for the State of Israel.”

March 24, 2021 12:46 a.m.
Final voter turnout is 67.2%
The Media Line Staff

The final voter turnout for the March 23 election stands at 4,420, 677, or 67.2% of eligible voters, according to the Central Elections Committee. The total is the lowest since 2009, which saw only 64.7% of eligible voters going to the polls.

March 24, 2021 12:40 am
Sa'ar on electoral disappointment: We will always respect the voters' verdict
The Media Line Staff

Gideon Sa’ar put the best face on the showing by his New Hope party, telling supporters two hours after the first exit poll results were announced that “without us, Netanyahu would have already declared victory by now.”

Sa’ar noted that New Hope, formed three months ago as a right-wing alternative to the Netanyahu-led Likud party, was the only new party to enter the Knesset with Tuesday’s election. In the immediate aftermath of the new party’s formation, New Hope was polling at up to 15 seats, making its showing of 6 seats tonight a disappointment, but a disappointment that was expected.

“Yes, we hoped for better results, but as democrats, we will always respect the verdict of the voters,” Sa’ar said.

“We will not enter a government headed by Netanyahu,” Sa’ar asserted. “We will do anything to form a government of change; ego will not be a consideration.”

He added: “If Netanyahu forms a government, we will serve people from the opposition.”

March 24, 2021 12:18 am
Shas head Deri: 'A government that preserves the country's Jewish character'
The Media Line Staff

Addressing supporters at election night headquarters, Shas party head Arye Deri says: “I have had a long conversation with the prime minister. We have agreed tonight – first, we’ll see the results. We are striving to form a government quickly. A Jewish national government that preserves the country’s Jewish character.”

March 23, 2021 11:43
Little hope for New Hope
The Media Line Staff

The exit polls, projecting 5 or 6 seats for Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope party, were met with total shock and disappointment at the party’s election headquarters, with one operative calling the results a “complete disaster.”

March 23, 2021 11:20
Likud supporters celebrate at party headquarters
The Media Line Staff
March 23, 2021 10 p.m.
And the first exit polls are in ...
The Media Line Staff

Israel’s polling booths have closed and the first exit polls have been revealed.  Predictably, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud came in first with at least 31 seats, and Opposition Leader Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid came in second with 18 seats.

But the final results will not be available for at least a day, or possibly longer. This is in large part due to the double-envelope ballots – ballots cast by diplomats, soldiers, hospital doctors and patients, and those in isolation due to a diagnosis of or exposure to the coronavirus. In past years the double-envelope ballots have added up to some 300,000. This year, due to the pandemic, that number could be as high as 600,000, meaning that it will take a longer time to cross-check and tally those ballots.

Here are the first exit polls:

Channel 11

Likud 31

Yesh Atid 18

Shas 9

Joint Arab List  8

United Torah Judaism 7

Yisrael Beitenu 7

Yamina 7

Blue and White 7

Labor 7

Religious Zionism 7

Meretz 6

New Hope 6

United Arab List (Raam) 0


Channel 12

Likud 31

Yesh Atid 18

Shas 9

Joint Arab List  9

Yamina 8

Labor 7

Religious Zionism 7

Blue and White 7

New Hope 6

United Torah Judaism 6

Yisrael Beitenu 6

Meretz 6

United Arab List (Raam) 0


Channel 13

Likud 33

Yesh Atid 16

Joint Arab List  8

Shas 8

Yisrael Beitenu 8

Blue and White 8

Yamina 7

United Torah Judaism 7

Labor 7

Meretz 7

Religious Zionism 6

New Hope 5

United Arab List (Raam) 0

March 23, 2021 9:13 p.m.
Tensions high as polling stations to close in less than an hour
Mohammad Al-Kassim
March 23, 2021 4:04 p.m.
Voter turnout remains lower than last year
The Media Line Staff

Voter turnout at 2 p.m. was 2,278,032 voters, or 34.6%, according to the Central Elections Committee. It is the lowest voter turnout for that particular hour since 2009 and 3.5% lower than the last election.

March 23, 2021 3:56 p.m.
Liberman warns 'ultra-Orthodox flocking to polls'
The Media Line Staff

The head of the Yisrael Beitenu party, Avigdor Liberman, in a tweet, warns of mass voter turnout of Haredi Orthdox voters and calls on secular voters to go out and vote. “The ultra-Orthodox are flocking to the polls,” Liberman says, in a call reminiscent of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in 2015 when he warned that Arabs were “voting in droves.”

“In the last election, about 1,200,000 people in cities with a clear secular majority did not go to the polls. I urge you to go and vote,” Liberman said in his tweet.

March 23, 2021 2:12 p.m.
Nearly empty polling place in Arab town
The Media Line Staff

A nearly empty polling place in the Arab-Israeli town of Kfar Kasem. 

March 23, 2021 2:04 p.m.
Voter turnout lower than last election
The Media Line Staff

Israel’s Central Election Committee reports that as of noon on Tuesday some 1,669,085 Israelis had voted in Tuesday’s national election, which is 25.5% of the eligible electorate. This is 2% fewer voters than at the same hour in the last election, one year ago,

March 23, 2021 1:57 p.m.
Netanyahu promises direct flights to Mecca
The Media Line Staff

In a bid to get more votes from the Arab community, Prime MInister Binyamin Netanyahu tweets a promise that direct flights from Israel to Mecca will go from being a dream to becoming a reality. He also calls on each Arab voter to bring three friends with him or her to the polls. There have been reports of low turnout in Arab communities and towns.


March 23, 2021 12:15 p.m.
Coronavirus patients vote at Sheba Medical Center
The Media Line Staff

Dr. Yitshak Kreiss, center, director general of the Sheba Medical Center, and Avi Baruch, deputy director of Administration, Organization and Human Resources, visit the voting booth set up for coronavirus patients. (Courtesy)

March 23, 2021 11:51 a.m.
Ahmad Tibi votes in Tayibe
The Media Line Staff

Ahmad Tibi, the leader of the Ta’al party, which is part of the Arab Joint List, votes Tuesday in his hometown of Tayibe.

March 23, 2021 11:45 a.m.
Netanyahu, wife vote in Jerusalem
The Media Line Staff

Prime Minister Binyamin and his wife, Sara, take a selfie after voting in Jerusalem. (Netanyahu Facebook page)


Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and and his wife, Sara, voted in Jerusalem. “I hope this is the last election,” said Netanyahu, who has so far served a record 12 years as prime minister.
He called Tuesday’s election, the fourth in two years, a “festival of democracy.”

March 23, 2021 11:35 a.m.
Rivlin votes for last time as president
The Media Line Staff


Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin votes in Jerusalem. (Mark Neyman /GPO)


Israeli President Reuven Rivlin voted in Jerusalem for his last time as the country’s president.

He called on all Israelis to come out and vote, adding: “I am voting today for the last time as president, but above all,, I do so as a concerned citizen. Very concerned.”

“With all the difficulties of the current situation, elections to the Knesset are the pinnacle of our democracy. Four elections in two years erode public trust in the democratic process, but only you can influence. There is no other way,” he said.

March 23, 2021 11:28 a.m.
Ready for voters in the Negev
The Media Line Staff

A polling station is the Negev in southern Israel is waiting for voters.

March 23, 2021 11:22 a.m.
Benny Gantz does not rule out 5th election
The Media Line Staff

Defense Minister Benny Gantz and his wife, Revital, vote at a polling place in Rosh Haayin. (Elad Malka)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, chairman of the Blue and White party, called on Israelis to go out and vote, warning that Israel could already be on a path to a fifth election.
At his polling station in Rosh Haayin, Gantz called elections a “celebration of democracy.” He added: “I urge everyone to stay calm, refrain from violence, and respect every individual and their democratic right.”

March 23, 2021 11:16 a.m.
Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli votes in Tel Aviv
The Media Line Staff

Labor party chair Merav Michaeli and her partner, comedian Lior Schlein, vote in Tel Aviv.

March 23, 2021 11:13 a.m.
New Hope leader Gideon Saar votes in Tel Aviv
The Media Line Staff

New Hope party head Gideon Saar is joined by his wife, Geula at a polling station in Tel Aviv. (Yoav Dudkevitch)

March 23, 2021 10:53 a.m.
Voting in Arrabah in northern Israel
The Media Line Staff

Voters at a polling station in Arrabah in northern Israel.

March 23, 2021 10:49 a.m.
Mansour Abbas casts his ballot
The Media Line Staff

Mansour Abbas, leader of United Arab List, votes in his hometown of Maghar in northern Israel. (Mohammad Zbaidat)

March 23, 2021 10:38 a.m.
Lapid: Beware of electing 'racist and homophobic' government
The Media Line Staff

Opposition leader and head of the Yesh Atid Party Yair Lapid and his wife, Lihi, voted Tuesday morning in Tel Aviv.

Lapid called Tuesday’s election a “moment of truth” for Israel and warned of a “dark, dangerous, racist and homophobic government” if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is tapped to form the next government.

March 23, 2021 10:26 a.m.
Protester in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv
The Media Line Staff
March 23, 2021 10:17 a.m.
Voting in French Hill, Jerusalem
The Media Line Staff

A polling station in French Hill in Jerusalem is ready to receive voters.

March 23, 2021 10:10 a.m.
Voting in Rahat
The Media Line Staff

Voters cast their ballots at a school in Rahat,  a predominantly Bedouin city in southern Israel.

March 23, 2021 7 a.m.
Polls open Tuesday at 7 a.m.
The Media Line Staff

Israelis began going to the polls throughout the country at 7 a.m. for the fourth election in two years. More than 6.5 million Israelis are eligible to vote at some 13,685 polling stations throughout the country. Some 750 of them are reserved for those who are sick with or in quarantine for exposure to the coronavirus.

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