doBenjamin Netanyahu will return to power or the centrist prime minister Yair Lapid will he keep his job? Israelis vote on Tuesday in their fifth legislative elections in less than four years, the result of which keeps the country in suspense.
Polling stations opened at 07:00 (local time) throughout the country and in the disputed city of Jerusalem and will close at 10:00 p.m. (local time).
With the end of the vote, the first exit polls will be published, followed by the first official results that they can have the country in suspense until Thursdaywhen the end of the count of very tight elections is expected.
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Although the 6.8 million registered voters have some 40 lists to choose from, the decision mainly comes down to two sides: the one in favor of a return of former conservative Prime Minister Netanyahu, tried for corruption, or the one in favor of maintaining the young and heteroclite coalition led by the centrist Lapid.
At 73 years old, Netanyahuthe longest-serving head of government in the history of Israeltries to gather a majority of 61 deputies in the 120 of the Parliament with his ultra-Orthodox allies and the extreme right, which can rise to third force.
Before him, Lapid, 58, prime minister since July, wants to convince voters to stay the course of recent months with his coalition made up of left, center, right and Arab parties.
This “coalition of change” forged by Lapid and Naftali Bennett ousted Netanyahu from power in June 2021, but a year later he lost his majority in the chamber due to the departure of right-wing deputies, which caused early elections, the fifth since the election. spring 2019.
The polls give Netanyahu’s “right-wing bloc” 60 seats, one short of the majority, against 56 for Lapid and his allies.
The 3.25% threshold
Although the campaign started slowly, it accelerated in the last days with the parties giving everything to convince the undecided and mobilize their bases, especially in the Arab localities.
In 2020, Israeli Arab parties achieved a record result of 15 seats after a dynamic campaign under a single list. But this time they appear scattered in three candidates: Raam (moderate Islamist), Hadash-Taal (secular) and Balad (nationalist).
In Israel’s proportional system, electoral lists must obtain at least 3.25% of the vote to gain access to Parliament with a minimum of four seats. Below this threshold, the parties are left without representation.
The division of the Arab parties puts them at risk of not reaching this minimum and favoring the victory of Netanyahu and his allies.
“Without us, the right will form a majority government. To stop them, we need them”, said Ahmed Tibi, one of the leaders of the Hadash-Taal list, in the final stretch of the campaign.
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The vote takes place in a context of tension in West Bank occupied, with two recent attacks by Palestinians, including one that killed an Israeli civilian on Saturday in Hebron (south), a city that is the focus of tensions with Israeli settlers in and around it.
Following a series of anti-Israeli attacks in the spring, the army carried out more than 2,000 operations in the West Bank, a Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.
These operations, concentrated especially in Jenin and Nablus (north), were usually accompanied by disturbances and caused more than 120 deaths on the Palestinian side, the worst toll in seven years.
“We know that these elections will not bring a partner for peace, and despite this, we say to the international community that it must demand that the next Israeli prime minister commit to ending the occupation and the conflict,” the Israeli Prime Minister said on Monday. palestinian Prime Minister, Mohamed Shtayyeh.
This Tuesday, the Israeli army closed the access points to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip except for “humanitarian” emergencies.
(With information from AFP)
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