Israel Goes Back to the Polls: ELECTION UPDATES

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu smiles after first exit poll results for the Israeli elections at his party’s headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, Feb. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Nearly six and a half million Israelis head to the polls Monday, as the ongoing state of elections continue in the country, this time for the 23rd Knesset. Politicians and candidates from all parties are making the rounds throughout the country, urging the party faithful – and the less committed – to go out and vote.

Latest times are U.S. Eastern Standard Time.

8:45 p.m.

The Central Election Committee (CEC) announced the first official election results shortly before 1:00 a.m. Israel time. Final results are only due to be released by Thursday morning.

With 6.57% of votes counted, according to CEC:

Likud: 135,027 – 32% – 37 seats predicted
Blue and White: 101,175 – 24% – 32 seats predicted
The Joint List: 43,873 – 10.4% – 15 seats predicted
Shas: 35,787 – 8.5% – 9 seats predicted
Yisrael Beytenu: 26,596 – 6.3% – 7 seats predicted
UTJ: 26,942 – 6.4% – 7 seats predicted
Yamina: 23,278 – 5.5% – 6 seats predicted
Labor-Gesher-Meretz: 25,321 – 6% – 7 seats predicted

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses his supporters on the night of the Israeli elections, at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, on March 3, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

8:10 p.m.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his victory speech, “’Mishenichnas Adar marbim besimchah.’ And tonight, we have some joy! (It is) a night of huge victory! Thank you very much.

“This is the great victory of my life, (it was) against all odds. We were facing huge forces that already eulogized us. We plowed the country from north to south. There is nothing like the citizens of Israel. Israeli citizens trust us because they know that we have brought the best decade in Israeli history. They said the Netanyahu era was over, but we turned the lemon into a lemonade.

“We will apply sovereignty over the homeland of Judea and Samaria. We will eliminate the Iranian threat. We will sign a defensive alliance with the United States. We will establish peace with the Arab states.

“I intend to be the prime minister of all Israeli citizens. I spoke to the leaders of the right-wing bloc, and tomorrow we will start establishing a national government tomorrow.”

Head of the Blue White party Benny Gantz speaks to supporters, at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, on election night, March 3, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

7:10 p.m.

Statement from leader of Blue and White MK Benny Gantz at the end of the campaign: “I understand and share the feeling of disappointment and pain. If these are the end results, it will not return the country to the clear thoroughfare. Let’s look at half a full glass. We set out on a long road a year ago. We created an amazing thing called Blue and White. We will not give up the principles nor our way.”

6:15 p.m.

Mano Geva of Chevrat Chadashot projects: Likud – 37; Blue and White – 32; Joint List – 15; Shas – 9; UTJ – 7; Labor/Gesher/Meretz – 7; Yamina – 6; and Yisrael Beteinu – 7.

Right bloc – 59; Center left bloc – 54.

 6:00 p.m.

Camille Fox of Channel 13 projects: Likud – 37; Blue and White – 34; Joint List – 14; Shas – 9; UTJ – 7; Labor/Gesher/Meretz – 7; Yamina – 6; and Yisrael Beteinu – 6.

United Torah Judaism party chairman and Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman and party member Rabbi Moshe Gafni attend the party headquarters on election night in Giv’at Shmuel, March 2, 2020. (Roy Alima/Flash90)

Right bloc – 59; Center left bloc – 54.

5:00 p.m.

Final tally of voter turnout: 1st election- 67.9%, 2nd election – 69.4%, current election – 71%

3:55 p.m.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke with all the leaders of the nationalist camp parties, and they agreed to establish a strong national government for Israel as soon as possible.

United Torah Judaism Chairman MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu and wished him mazal tov. Minister Litzman informed him of continued cooperation between the right-wing bloc.

In addition, Netanyahu called MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni, the leader of Degel Hatorah, who praised him for his great victory. They schedule a meeting tomorrow morning of the right wing bloc.

Shas party leader Aryeh Deri and party members at the party headquarters on election night, March 2, 2020. (Flash90)

The Prime Minister also called on Shas Chairman MK Rabbi Aryeh Deri, congratulated him on the result and thanking him for his consistent support.

Minister Deri congratulated the Prime Minister on the excellent result and said he hoped that a strong right-wing government would soon be formed to act for the people of Israel

National Union Chairman, Minister of Transport MK Bezalel Smutrich released a statement which stated,

“Thank you to the thousands of religious Zionist sons and daughters who took charge of the State of Israel and the right-wing camp, descended into the territory in droves, bringing tremendous achievement.

“This great spirit will be transformed, with the help of Hashem, into a good national government for Israel. ”

Israeli minister of Defense and leader of the Yamina party Naftali Bennett seen with party members at the Yamina headquarters on elections night, in Ramat Gan on March 2, 2020. (Flash90)

Defense Minister Naftoli Bennett, head of the Yamina faction, announced, “(The) Right won, (and) we’ll make sure the right way wins too. As we promised before the elections, we recommend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the establishment of a national right-wing government. The right-wing faction will remain united, and tomorrow we will hold a first-party meeting. We are committed to the right-wing bloc led by Netanyahu to establish a government in which we will continue to maintain the security of Israeli citizens, continue to provide support to IDF soldiers and maintain Israel and right-wing values.”


3:10 p.m. – Exit Polls

Channel 13:

Likud: 37
Blue and White: 32
Joint List: 14

Rabbi Yisrael Eichler of UTJ.

Yamina: 6
Labor-Gesher-Meretz: 6
Yisrael Beytenu: 8
Shas: 9
United Torah Judaism: 8

Right-wing bloc: 60
Center-left/Arab bloc: 44
Yisrael Beytenu: 8

The Kan public broadcaster:

Likud: 36
Blue and White: 33
Joint List: 15
Shas: 9

Yisrael Beiteinu’s Avigdor Lieberman during a press conference in after Israeli elections in  Modiin, Monday, March 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

United Torah Judaism: 8
Yamina: 7
Labor-Gesher-Meretz: 6
Yisrael Beytenu: 6

Right-wing bloc: 60
Center-left/Arab bloc: 54
Yisrael Beytenu: 6

Channel 12:

Likud: 37
Blue and White: 33

Joint List: 14
Shas: 9
United Torah Judaism: 7

Members of the Joint List party at party headquarters in Shfar’am, during the Knesset Elections, on March 2, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Yamina: 7
Labor-Gesher-Meretz: 7
Yisrael Beytenu: 6

Right-wing bloc: 60
Center-left/Arab bloc: 54
Yisrael Beytenu: 6

All times are in Israel time. This post will be updated throughout the day.

5:40 p.m.

The Central Election Committee reports that voter turnout as of 4 p.m. stands at 47%. Voter turnout for the same time during September’s election stood at 44.3%, and at the same time in the April elections was 42.8%.

The turnout on Monday, thus far, is the highest since the 1999 elections.

4:20 p.m.

The Central Election Committee has announced that the dedicated polling stations for Israelis in isolation will remain open until 7 p.m. They have also added additional polling stations in Tel Aviv and Kfar Sava. The committee notes that for technical reasons, lighting, and being that the special tents are outdoors, the stations can not remain open past 7 p.m.

3:33 p.m.

Voter turnout as of 2 p.m. was 38.1%. In the September election it was 36.5% at this time, while in April it was 35.8%.

1:30 p.m.

Voter turnout as of 12 p.m. was 27.6%, up 0.8% from the September election, and a high of 21 years for that time.

12:45 p.m.

The United Torah Judaism party headquarters in Yerushalayim on Monday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

UTJ intends to file a complaint at the Central Election Committee and to the Police against telephone attempts to mislead residents of the Central Region by calling them and telling them that they have “already voted and should not come to vote.”

“This is a false deception stemming from interested parties trying to hurt the party as well as the purity of the elections,” UTJ said.

12 p.m.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after casting his vote at a voting station in Yerushalayim, Monday. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu voted in Yerushalayim. Netanyahu: “I urge everyone to go vote. This is a great democratic right, and we should be proud of it. Come with confidence to vote.

“I say with confidence, because we are doing everything necessary to address the health issues. You have nothing to worry about, just one thing – don’t listen to fake news that tries to keep you from voting.”

11:30 a.m.

A paramedic in a protective suit helps a man as he prepares to vote in a special polling station set up by the election committee, in Ashkelon, Monday. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

Paramedics dressed in head-to-toe protective gear stood guard at dedicated polling stations where Israelis under quarantine from the coronavirus voted in Monday’s election.

One by one, voters in face masks and gloves who have been isolated at home after crossing paths with coronavirus carriers filed through more than a dozen tents across the country to fill in their ballot slips in a close contest in which candidates are fighting for every last vote.

Election officials sat on the opposite side of a see-through plastic barrier to make sure things run smoothly.

Ten Israelis have tested positive for the virus and about 5,500 others, including those who have recently traveled to coronavirus hot spots, are under home quarantine, according to Israel‘s Health Ministry.

11:15 a.m.

President Reuven Rivlin casts his ballot at a voting station in Yerushalayim, Monday. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

President Reuven Rivlin called on all Israelis to exercise their rights and go out and vote.

“Election day is normally a festive day, but the truth is that I don’t feel like celebrating. I only a sense of deep shame when I face you, my fellow citizens,” said Rivlin.

“We just don’t deserve this. We don’t deserve another awful election campaign like the one that ends today and we don’t deserve this never-ending instability. We deserve a government that works for us.

“I ask you to go and vote. Every vote is the right one. Every vote is your voice. Go out and make it heard.

“I very much hope that we meet again only in 2024, or at least that I won’t see another election campaign as president of the country.”

11 a.m.

Voter turnout as of 10 a.m. was 14.5%, slightly down from September election, when it was 15% at the same time.

7 a.m.

Polls open across the country, the third time in under a year, with the name of the game this time being the percentage of votes, around the coronavirus fright that is expected to somehow affect Election Day.

6,453,255 voters will be able to exercise their democratic right at 10,631 voting stations, including 14 special stations for those under quarantine for coronavirus. The polls will close at 10 p.m., then the exit polls will be published, with tension to increase as the real-time results begin to come in.



Updated Monday, March 2, 2020 at 6:05 pm .rn.