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Elections show rift in Israel

A voter survey released after polls closed Tuesday predicted victory for a secular businessman against a powerful ultra-Orthodox Jewish leader in Jerusalem's mayoral race, a contest that again exposed the deep divide between religious and secular Israelis.

Israelis voted around the country, picking mayors and city councils – and local issues and strong independent candidates overshadowed clashes between the major parties three months before national elections. In Jerusalem, the three largest parties failed to field candidates for mayor for the first time, leaving the race to representatives of two of the city's three distinctive and often squabbling groupings.

The telephone survey of people who voted, conducted by Israel TV, showed that secular candidate Nir Barkat defeated Meir Porush 50 percent to 42 percent.

Porush, 53, an imposing figure on the ultra-Orthodox national political scene, faced Nir Barkat, a venture capitalist.

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