With annexation in the balance, 10 things to know about how settlers voted

Residents of Judea and Samaria, which make up some six or seven mandates, are considered to be the bedrock of the Likud and Yamina parties.

A view shows the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the West Bank February 25, 2020. (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
A view shows the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the West Bank February 25, 2020.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
With annexation of all West Bank settlements hanging in the balance, the 245,072 eligible settler voters had more at stake than most of their counterparts in the March 2 election.
Residents of Judea and Samaria, which make up some six or seven mandates, are considered to be the bedrock of the Likud and Yamina parties, and as such were heavily courted by politicians in the last election.
Here is how their votes broke down, based on an examination of data from Israel’s Election Committee, culled independently by The Jerusalem Post and the YESHA Council.
Settlers have a higher voting rate
Some 76.6% of the settlers cast their ballots, compared to the 71.5% who did so nationwide.
Residents of smaller, right-wing communities tended to have a higher voting rate than that of the largest settlements.
The South Hebron Hills settlement of Sansana with 236 voters had the highest voting rate, 91.1%, casting 78.4% of its votes for the Yamina Party lead by Defense Minister Naftali Bennett.
That was followed by the newly created Amichai settlement in the Binyamin region with 66 voters, of whom 90.4% cast their ballots. Some 43.9% of those voters, 29 people, also went for the Yamina Party, while another 29.8%, 19 people, voted for the Likud Party headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Despite annexation, fewer settlers voted
The promise that a right-wing government led by Netanyahu would annex all of the West Bank settlements, did not increase the settlers voting rate, which actually dropped.
Nationwide, more voters headed to the polls in this election, 71.5%, than in the last two elections. In September, 69.8% of the country’s eligible voters cast a ballot, up from 68.5% in April 2019.
But among settlers, while the number of eligible voters is rising, the percentage of those who voted has continually dropped slightly from 78% in April 2019, to 76.8% in September and down to 76.2% this time around.
Settlements with most to gain, voted less
One of the more talked about topics for two elections was the Jordan Valley settlements. Prior to the September election, Netanyahu held a cabinet meeting regarding the Jordan Valley and authorized a new settlement there named Mev’ot Yericho. He also pledged to annex the area once he formed a government. During his campaign for the March 2 election, Netanyahu promised to annex all West Bank settlements as soon has he has a green light from the Trump administration.
But his words failed to energize those with the most to gain. The settlement with the lowest voting record on March 2 was Ma’ale Efraim in the Jordan Valley, with 1,108 eligible voters, of whom only 53.3% cast their votes – 589 people.
The overall voting rate in the Jordan Valley was also below the national average, with only 68.1% of its 4,569 eligible voters casting their ballot.
Similarly Netanyahu’s last-minute campaign pledge to finally construct 3,500 new homes in an unbuilt area of the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement, known as E1, did not send the apathetic voters in that city to the polls.
If anything, voting rates in that settlement city dropped, from 73.1% in April 2019, when no promises were made to its residents, to 71.2% in this election. It’s a number that is a slight increase from the 70.2% of those in Ma’aleh Adumim who voted in September 2019, but still just on par with the national voting rate and below that of the overall settler voting rate.
Likud is most popular party in the settlements
For the first time in at least five elections, the Likud Party beat out its right-wing rivals in Judea and Samaria. Netanyahu might speak of himself as the leader of the right-wing, but he has historically had a hard time capturing its voters in the region, which is one of the most right-wing regions of the country.
In both the 2013 election and the 2015 elections, for example, Bennett’s Yisrael Beytenu party had more support than Netanyahu in the settlements.
In the campaign for the March 2 election, Netanyahu placed the settlements at the top of his campaign agenda. He might not have impacted the apathetic voter, but he did sway more of those who did vote, to cast their ballot for him.
The Likud captured 29.7% of the vote, a slight increase from 29.5% of support that Netanyahu received nationwide. It’s an increase from the 22.4% settler vote Netanyahu captured in September and the 23% support he received in April 2019. In both of those elections, Netanyahu had less support in the settlements than he did nationwide.
The results placed him ahead of Bennett’s party, which was the second largest vote getter in the settlements. Yamina captured 22.8% of the vote, down from 24.4% in the last election when it was led by former justice minister Ayelet Shaked. In the last election, the Shaked-led Yamina Party captured a larger percentage of the right-wing vote than Netanyahu.
In the April 2019 election, Netanyahu received the largest percentage of the settler votes, but it was a fragile victory. At that time he bested both the Bennett-led Bait Yehudi Party, which had 11% of the settler vote, and the Union of Right Wing Parties, which captured 18% of that vote. Combined, the two parties had 29% of the settler vote in April 2019, more than Netanyahu’s 23%.
This time around, both those parties were subsumed by Yamina, thus making Netanyahu’s results in the March 2020 election, particularly significant among the settler population.
Together, the two parties – Likud and Yamina – captured 52.5% of the settler vote, up from the 46.4% the last time.
Where is the highest number of Likud voters?
On a percentage basis, the Likud Party was the most popular in the Kedar settlement in the Gush Etzion region, where it received 70.4% support: 510 people out of the 725 eligible voters.
The settlement with the highest number of Likud supporters was Ma’aleh Adumim with 11,789 voters. The Likud was also the leading party, garnering 59.3% of the city’s voters. It’s an increase over the 9,561 Likud voters, who were 49% of those who cast their ballot there in September. In April some 10,093 Ma’aleh Adumim residents supported the Likud, amounting to 49.8% of the city’s voters.
The settlement with the second highest concentration of Likud supporters was Ariel, where the Likud also led at 5,033, making up 52.4% of the vote. Similar to Ma’aleh Adumim, it marked an increase of Likud support in Ariel when compared to the last two elections.
Where is the highest number of Yamina voters?
The settlement with the highest percentage of Yamina voters was Bruchin in the Samaria region, where the party captured 80% of the community’s 395 voters. The Efrat settlement in the Gush Etzion region had the highest number of Yamina supporters, 2,884. It was the leading party in the community of 5,481 voters and captured 52.7% of the community’s support.
UTJ more popular than Shas in the settlements
United Torah Judaism was the most popular ultra-Orthodox party in the settlements, garnering 21.1% of the settler vote, compared to Shas, which received 10.7%. Overall, the two parties received 31.8% of the settler vote. That is more than twice the national rate, where the parties received 6% and 7.7% of the vote respectively, 13.7% in total. It’s also a slight increase over the September 2019 election, when they received 20.4% and 10%, for a total of 30.4% of the settler vote.
Overall there were nine communities in which UTJ and Shas had the highest percentage of voters out of all the parties. The Matityahu settlement in the Binyamin region of the West Bank had the highest percentage of UTJ voters, 84.8%, which represented 305 out of its 363 voters. The other settlements where UTJ was the leading party were: Nachliel, Ma’aleh Amos, Modi’in Illit, Beitar Illit and Asfar.
The Ganei Modi’in settlement has the highest percentage of Shas supporters, with 47% of its 1,486 voters throwing their support behind that party. The other two communities led by Shas were Kochav HaShachar and Emmanuel.
Overall, the settlements with the largest number of UTJ voters were Modi’in Illit with 18,926 voters and Beitar Illit with 13,588 voters. The largest number of Shas voters was also in those communities, with 6,345 in Beitar Illit and 4,238 in Modi’in Illit.
Ultra-orthodox settler cities had high turnout
The ultra-orthodox settler cities of Modi’in Illit and Beitar Illit had a higher turnout than their mixed secular and national-religious counterparts, the settlements of Ma’aleh Adumim and Ariel.
Modi’in Illit with an 83.4% voter turnout rate and Beitar Illit at 82% had a higher percentage of voters than both the national and the settler rate. Ma’aleh Adumim with a 71.2% voting rate and Ariel with a 64% rate, were lower than both the national and settler voting rate.
Blue and White led in 10 settlements
Nationwide, Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party might have been the second highest vote getter, capturing 26.6% of the votes; Labor received 5.8%.
In the settlements the party received 9.1% and 1.3% respectively. But while support for Blue and White dropped nationwide, it rose slightly in the settlements, up from 9% in the last two elections.
Still, there were 10 settlements in which Blue and White had the highest percentage of the vote. In the Salit settlement in Samaria, some 71.8% of the community’s 629 voters cast their ballot for the party. The other communities in which it was the top vote getter were Oranit, Almog, Har Adar, Kfar HaOranim, Mizpe Shalem, Na’ama, Netiv HaGidod, Kalya, Rihan and Tomer.
The largest number of Blue and White voters was in the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement, with 2,181 supporters. That was closely followed by Oranit, with 2,169 supporters.
Liberman more popular than Ben-Gvir in the settlements
Avigdor Liberman of Yisrael Beytenu and Itamar Ben-Gvir of Otzma are the only two party leaders who actually live in West Bank settlements.
While Liberman has wielded enormous political power on the national stage, his support has never come from the settlements, despite his claim to be the only true right-wing party.
Even the residents of his home settlement of Nokdim have not backed him, giving him only 7.5% of their vote and placing him third after Likud and Yamina.
Overall, however, he garnered only 2.8% of the settler vote, less than the 5.7% he received nationwide. It’s a drop from the 3.6% of his settler support in September.
A native Russian speaker who immigrated from Moldova, Liberman’s largest base of support in the settlements is in the city of Ariel, which has a significant population of Russian speakers. He received 1,827 votes, comprising 19% of the city’s overall 9,694 voters. That placed him second in Ariel, just after the Likud and ahead of Blue and White, which was third.
Ben-Gvir, in contrast, has wielded political power in the settlements while failing to catapult onto the national stage. In the April 2019 election, he ran on the same ticket as the URP. He ran alone in the September election, where he received 7% of the settler vote. In his home community of Hebron, he was second in popularity, after the Yamina Party, receiving 37.4% of the community’s vote, more than the 10.4% of support that went to the Likud.
This time around, Ben-Gvir garnered only 18.1% of the Hebron vote, falling behind both Yamina at 45.6% and the Likud at 20.9%. On a percentage basis, he had the most support in Yitzhar, where he came in third at 23.3% after Yamina and Likud. In real number, he had the most voters in Kiryat Arba, which borders Hebron, where he placed third at 7.1% with 233 voters.