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Thursday, January 24, 2013 

Final count in election gives right 61, left 59

Depending on how we view it anyway, because it's hard say if Yesh Atid fully qualifies as "left". Here's the latest report:
The count of the "double envelope" votes came to a close on Thursday afternoon, with Bayit Yehudi finishing at 12 seats, Kadima crossing the threshold with two seats and the Raam-Taal party dropping from five to four seats, officials said.

The votes of 200,000 soldiers, plus those of prisoners and people in hospitals, were counted a day later than the regular vote.

These ballots are called “double envelope votes,” because many of the voters are listed in their army base or hospital, as well as in their home town, and it takes longer to count them, because the Central Elections Committee must check to make sure they did not vote twice.

In the final count, Likud won 31 Knesset seats, Yesh Atid 19, Labor 15, Bayit Yehudi 12, Shas 11, United Torah Judaism seven, Meretz and The Tzipi Livni Party six each, the three Arab parties a total of 11, and Kadima two. This gives the Right bloc 61 seats and the Center-Left bloc 59 in the next Knesset.
So the Jewish Home got a dozen seats after all, and Shas deservedly didn't. In any upcoming coalition negotiations, I honestly would rather they remain out of the government, and Aryeh Deri not be a minister. In fact, while I don't agree with everything that Yesh Atid member rabbi Shai Piron says, this is well worth considering:
Yesh Atid’s second-placed candidate, Rabbi Shai Piron, had tough words for Shas, and promised that his party would not agree to sit in government with the haredi faction if it meant compromising on its core principles.

“We won’t be part of a government of which Shas is the defining identity, in which Shas has a large influence on its character, on its tone, on the discourse, and on its priorities,” Piron said on Army Radio.

“If Shas repents for its former behavior and understands that the type of extortion it has employed in the past is over, and that equality in the burden of national service will be a fact of life, then we can sit with them,” he continued. “But Yesh Atid will categorically not be part of a government in which Shas behaves as it has in the past. The Israeli public has said no to its campaign of hatred and racism, is fed up with sectoral politics and doesn’t want this kind of discourse. It wants to talk about Israeli society as a whole.”
As someone with relatives of Russian descent - namely, my grandparents - I can say that it's offensive to me how Shas and Deri basically denigrated their background, and the party's failure to acknowledge they were wrong to act that way only weighs against them. That's why I would rather they not be in the government, and they should not be allowed to exploit the public's tax money solely for their yeshivas that don't even give convincing education anyway, all the while refusing to serve in the army even when Torah studies are available there. Shas has to be told clearly that their time is up.

Update: Bloomberg says that this might get Haredis to enter the workforce. So even if they don't join the army, it'll be just as positive a step if they actually get employment. Here's an extra op-ed on Israel Hayom.

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