Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked not entering Knesset

Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett hold a news conference for the New Right party in Tel Aviv, March 17, 2019. (Flash90)

Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, formerly two young rising stars on Israel’s right, will not be part of the incoming Knesset, according to the final vote tally from Tuesday’s elections.

The numbers released Thursday night in Israel show Bennett and Shaked’s party, the New Right, falling just short of the 3.25 percent vote threshold necessary to enter Knesset. The party’s 138,000 votes fell fewer than 1,500 short of the threshold.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party will have 36 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, the most of any party, gaining a seat in the final tally at the expense of the haredi Orthodox United Torah Judaism. UTJ will have seven seats, the fourth most. Right-wing parties won a 10-seat majority overall.

Likud’s main rival, the centrist Blue and White party, will hold 35 seats.

The defeat of Bennett and Shaked is a steep fall for politicians who found quick success upon launching their careers in 2012. In the outgoing government, Bennett was education minister and Shaked was justice minister, the youngest person to ever hold the position.

Shaked was a controversial opponent of the Supreme Court and said she wanted to stop what she called leftist judicial activism. Bennett has long advocated the annexation of Israel’s West Bank settlements — a position that Netanyahu endorsed shortly before the election.

Last year they split from the religious Zionist Jewish Home party to form the New Right, an ultimately unsuccessful bid to attract a wider base of voters.

JTA