Israel's election highlights secular-religious divide

By Aron Heller | Posted - Sep. 20, 2019 at 1:03 a.m.

KFAR SABA, Israel (AP) — Religion played a central role in this week's deadlocked election in Israel's secular heartland.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's tight alliance with the ultra-Orthodox may have contributed to his second-place finish.

For many, a vote for the opposition was driven by a desire to keep rabbis out of their schools, businesses and love lives.

Firebrand politician Avigdor Lieberman has now positioned himself as the power broker by making these matters his signature cause and defecting from Netanyahu's camp over what he called its capitulation to the ultra-Orthodox. He now insists on a secular unity government, and neither Netanyahu nor his rival Benny Gantz seem capable of forming a coalition government without him.

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Aron Heller

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