Central Elections Committee head Orly Adas says another vote tally update is expected within 2-3 hours, and will include votes from 200 additional ballots stations.
Adas says that officials will start counting an estimated 450,000 absentee ballots cast in double envelopes by members of security forces, prisoners, diplomats, COVID-19 patients, those in quarantine and more.
Adas says she hopes all those votes will be counted by tomorrow evening and the final tally will be available on Friday.
As Likud party members spar over whether a coalition that includes the Islamist Ra’am party is possible, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s party has imposed a media interview ban on all its ministers and lawmakers, Hebrew media reports.
Members have been instructed not to give any further interviews and to cancel scheduled appearances.
If the final election results end up similar to the current ones, which consist of 87.5% of the votes, nobody has a clear path to a coalition — and that could end up crowning Benny Gantz as prime minister instead of Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to the coalition agreement signed by Netanyahu and Gantz last year — which was anchored in Israel’s Basic Laws and hasn’t been nullified — Gantz is set to become premier on November 17, 2021.
This means that if no new government is sworn in by that date, Gantz will replace Netanyahu as interim prime minister even though their partnership has fallen apart long ago.
This gives an extra incentive to Netanyahu to compromise and form a government — or alternatively, to speed up the process of calling an additional election in the summer, hoping the new vote’s results will be more favorable to him.
The Central Elections Committee updates its count tally, with 87% of votes now counted and published.
According to the new figures, the pro-Netanyahu bloc of parties plus Yamina drops to 59 seats, with the Islamist Ra’am party passing the electoral threshold and shaking up the map.
According to the updated seat map as of now, Likud gets 30 seats; Yesh Atid 17; Shas 9; Blue and White 8; Labor 7; Yamina 7; United Torah Judaism 7; Yisrael Beytenu 7; Joint List 6; Religious Zionism 6; New Hope 6; Meretz 5; and Ra’am 5.