Israeli Voters Head to Polls for Fourth Election in Two Years

Israeli President Reuven rivlin vote in Israeli elections. (File photo: Via Wikimedia Commons)

Israeli citizens began voting on Tuesday in the country’s fourth general election in less than two years, with no guarantee that this poll will bring about a more conclusive result than the previous three.

Nearly 14,000 polling stations opened at 7 am across the country, several thousand more than previous elections to prevent crowding in the pandemic, Israeli media reported.

Voting will close at 10 pm, when exit polls will likely point to voting trends rather than a clear winner because of the tight race.

Benjamin Netanyahu is Israel’s longest-serving premier and its most popular politician, but his inability in recent years to unite a stable governing majority behind him has mired the country in unprecedented political gridlock.

He is facing an electorate of some 6.5 million registered voters, after leading a successful coronavirus vaccination effort that has already fully inoculated half of Israel’s roughly nine million people, a pace envied by much of the world.

But while his right-wing Likud will likely win the most seats, 71-year-old Netanyahu will need coalition partners to secure a majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

That means Israel is looking at three possible outcomes: another coalition under Netanyahu, an ideologically divided government united only by its opposition to him, or a looming fifth election.

Netanyahu is currently on trial over corruption charges – allegations he denies, but which have helped fuel a protest movement with weekly rallies outside his Jerusalem residence.

To form a government, Netanyahu will have to come to terms with small factions that control a handful of seats, possibly including a new extremist, far-right alliance called Religious Zionism.

If Religious Zionism crosses the 3.25 percent support threshold, as polls predict, it will send to parliament Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has voiced admiration for Baruch Goldstein, the mass-murderer of 29 Palestinian worshippers in Hebron (Al-Khalil) in 1994.

Even top Likud member and energy minister Yuval Steinitz said it would be improper to sit with Ben-Gvir, who has vowed to secure a prominent role in government before agreeing to join Netanyahu.

(The New Arab, PC, Social Media)

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