TEL AVIV, January 25 (RIA Novosti) – Israeli election officials published on Friday the final tally in the country’s parliamentary elections, giving right-wing forces supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a narrow majority in the 120-seat Knesset.
The final results from the January 22 vote came after a count of about 200,000 leftover ballots from servicemen, prisoners and hospital patients and staff, and gave the conservatives 61 seats to their center-left rivals’ 59.
It also put to rest what appeared to be some speculation over whether right-wing forces were at a dead heat with their rivals.
Netanyahu’s conservative Likud-Beitenu bloc won the largest share of votes, at 31, despite losing a number of seats since the previous election.
The centrist Yesh Atid party, meanwhile, took 19 votes in an unexpected surge. The prime minister is expected to form a coalition government with Yesh Atid within the next month.
The election results become official next week, after they are handed over to President Shimon Peres.
The vote took place against a backdrop of heightened tensions over the Palestinian issue, which observers say played a key role in the contest. Violence erupted late last year when Israel launched a massive naval and air assault on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, in response to rocket fire from Palestinian militants.