JERUSALEM – A final tally released Thursday of votes from this week's parliamentary election in Israel broke the virtual tie between rival ideological factions, giving the right-wing bloc, including religious parties, 61 seats in the Knesset, compared with 59 seats for the center-left, including Arab parties.
But the final figures -- a slight change from the preliminary 60-60 dead heat that was reported after Tuesday’s vote -- are not expected to alter the course of coalition talks. Those negotiations are expected to see Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party seek to form a broad-based government with the centrist Yesh Atid party, the surprising second-place finisher.
The new coalition government, likely to be formed in the next month, is expected to adopt more moderate policies than Netanyahu’s previous right-wing coalition, which focused on confronting Iran’s nuclear program and expanding West Bank settlements.
The final election count reflected about 220,000 ballots from soldiers, diplomats, prisoners and others who could not go to the polls Tuesday. After tallying the additional votes, one seat was lost by Arab party United Arab List and one was gained by the religious nationalist Jewish Home.