Analysts: Loss of UTJ Seat Devastating for Chareidi Community – and for Gantz

YERUSHALAYIM -
Rabbi Yitzhak Pindrus. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Rabbi Yitzchak Pindrus, number eight on the United Torah Judaism list, will not be taking a seat in the 22nd Knesset when it is seated next week, after the Central Elections Committee overnight Tuesday awarded his seat to the Likud. A recount of votes at several polling stations – mostly in the Arab sector – yielded more votes for the Likud, changing the ratio by which seats are distributed to parties based on vote counts. In that recount, UTJ came up just 68 votes short of an eighth Knesset seat.

This case might still be taken to the High Court.

In a message to supporters, the would-be MK said that “whatever Hashem does is for the best.” This is the second time his Knesset seat was wrested away from him; in the April election, the UTJ candidate was also declared a Knesset member after the election, but that status was removed about a week later, when a recount took place. His seat was then returned and he served in the 21st Knesset, however long that lasted.

Analysts said that while the change would have no impact on the balance of power between right and left, an additional seat for the Likud and one less for UTJ could have an enormous impact on coalition negotiations – to the detriment of Blue and White.

Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

This is obviously a loss for the chareidi community on the whole, as they now have one less vote when it will come to the core votes in the Knesset.

With one less seat for a chareidi party, Benny Gantz will have one less Knesset seat to count on if he attempts to bring UTJ and Shas into a government he tries to form. With a coalition of Blue and White’s 33 seats, nine from Shas, seven from UTJ – along with six of Labor and five of Democratic Camp – Gantz could put together a government of only 60 MKs, which would require him to either recruit MKs from Yisrael Beytenu or the United Arab List, both seen as non-starters by analysts. Thus, a government including the chareidi parties – even if they could be persuaded to join one in which Yair Lapid is a senior member – is likely off the table now.