Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

4 Sivan 5759 - May 19, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Barak Wins Decisively

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

One Israel's Ehud Barak trounced Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, 56.5% to 43.5%, in this week's national elections. Just half an hour after the polls closed, Netanyahu conceded defeat and told stunned supporters that he is withdrawing from politics, at least for a while. The 57- year-old Barak will be the country's sixth prime minister in the last 18 years.

There were immediate reports of a serious Katyusha attack in the north in the course of the night, continuing the pressure from Lebanon.

Given the nonideological background of Barak's campaign and his own apparent lack of deep commitments, the constitution of his governmental coalition is liable to prove of crucial importance.

According to late results on Tuesday morning said to reflect over 90% of the votes: Barak's party One Israel received 27 seats; Likud 19 seats; Shas 17; Meretz 9; Yisrael B'Aliyah 7; Shinui and the Center Party 6; UTJ, NRP and the United Arab Party 5; Yisrael Our Home 4; National Unity and Chadash (Arab) 3; One Nation and Balad (Arab) 2. There are a total of 15 parties. There may be minor adjustments.

Current parties not passing the 1.5% entry threshold include the Third way and Tsomet.

New parties in the 15th Knesset include the Center Party that includes former members of the Likud and Labor; Amir Peretz's Am Echad, a labor party (Peretz is head of the Histadrut); the National Union comprised of Moledet, Cheirut and Tekuma that is to the extreme right and includes religious former members of Mafdal and non-religious; and Avigdor Lieberman's Russian Yisrael Beiteinu.

US President Bill Clinton immediately offered his "warmest congratulations" to Barak. Clinton said in a statement that he had spoken by telephone to Barak, as well as to Netanyahu, and he pledged to work "energetically for a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace that strengthens Israel's security."

One Israel was the largest party, but even together with its new partners Gesher and Meimad, it got six less than in the previous Knesset. The Likud, however, went down much more: from 32 to 19 seats.

United Torah Judaism gained one seat increasing its strength by 25% to five seats. Shas grew even more dramatically as it went from 10 to 17 seats.

Meretz gained nine, as in the previous Knesset. The National Religious Party dropped from nine seats to five. Among the Arab parties, Hadash dropped from five seats in the outgoing Knesset to three.

According to election officials, 79% of the country's 4.3 million voters cast ballots.

Throughout the day there were reports of long lines at polling places in chareidi neighborhoods, where voting committee officials from left-wing parties tried to cause delays. Several leftists were dismissed from their posts (see separate story).

There were also a number of incidents reported where voters showed up at their polling place, only to find that someone using their name had already voted in their place. Incidents of this nature were reported in kibbutzim in the north as well as in Yerushalayim. In addition there were complaints that voting slips for various parties and candidates had disappeared from the polling places.

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