Ultra-Orthodox mayor wins repeat of Beit Shemesh mayoral election

(Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

A tension filled mayoral election race has finally ended last Wednesday in the town of Beit Shemesh. The "haredi," or ultra-Orthodox, incumbent Moshe Abutbul won over his secular opponent Eli Cohen.

The results showed that Abutbul only had a 51% of the votes against Cohen's 49%, with the difference between them sitting at 758, Reuters reports.

In addition, the town also had an impressive citywide voter turnout of around 75% for the election, which was a repeat of a previous election overturned by courts after discovery of systemic voter fraud that lead to Abutbul winning.

The whole mayoral race has been filled to the brim and was on the brink of exploding into a possibly violent religious conflict, with secular voters and other residents who practice Jewish traditions wishing to for the deposition of Abutbul and his ultra-Orthodox system.

The race was just the possible end of what began in 2011 when an eight year old girl, who was a member of a more liberal Jewish community, was spat at by members of that ultra-Orthodoxy by reason of her clothes supposedly being "immodest."

Ever since the conflict has escalated from protests of seculars calling for Abutbul's stepping down, to some very violent ones and the conflict over religious issues has just kept pouring.

"Beit Shemesh is a reflection of Israeli society. The battle is not just local, it is national," Cohen once told Israel Radio.

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