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
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
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
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
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.