A bitter mayoral race in a town that has become a symbol of religious and political divisions in Israel ended on Wednesday with the victory of its ultra-Orthodox Jewish incumbent over his secular challenger.
Moshe Abutbul won the re-vote in Beit Shemesh, a town near Jerusalem that has become a focus of national attention in the Jewish state where secular-religious tensions often flare.
Voicing fears of religious zealotry and coercion, secular voters and other residents who hold to Jewish traditions but are not ultra-Orthodox had mobilized to topple Abutbul after a court, citing election fraud, cancelled results of a ballot in October that had kept the mayor in power.
Abutbul won the election by 758 votes, 51 percent of the ballot, over his secular rival Eli Cohen, the Interior Ministry said. Intensive campaigning by both camps yielded a high turnout of more than 75 percent.