Israeli elections.  Netanyahu is back as voters go to the polls in their fifth election in four years

Israeli elections. Netanyahu is back as voters go to the polls in their fifth election in four years

Israeli elections. Netanyahu is back as voters go to the polls in their fifth election in four years


Jerusalem
CNN:

Israelis head to the polls for an unprecedented fifth time in four years on Tuesday as Israel is holding another national election aimed at ending the ongoing political deadlock in the country.

For the first time in 13 years, ex Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not nominated as acting president. Bibi, as he is commonly known in Israel, is hoping to return to power as head of a hard-right coalition, while centrist interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid hopes the mantle of incumbent prime minister will help keep him in place.

Netanyahu issued a stark warning when he voted Tuesday morning.

Asked by CNN whether he feared he would lead a far-right government if returned to office, Netanyahu responded with an apparent reference to the Raam party, which made history last year by becoming the first Arab party ever to join an Israeli governing coalition. .

“We don’t want a government with the Muslim Brotherhood, which supports terrorism, denies the existence of Israel, and is quite hostile to the United States. That’s what we’re going to bring,” Netanyahu told CNN in English at his polling station in Jerusalem.

Lapid, who hopes that he and his political allies will defy election forecasts and stay in power, cast his vote in Tel Aviv on Tuesday with a message to voters: “Good morning, vote wisely. Vote for the State of Israel, the future of our children and our future in general.” The name of Lapid’s party, Yesh Atid, means “there is a future”.

The country was on track for its highest voter turnout since 1999. Afternoon turnout was 47.5%, the Central Election Committee said, more than five points higher than at the same time in the last poll.

There had been a strong push to get out of the polls ahead of Tuesday, with Netanyahu rampaging through the country in a converted truck and Arab parties calling on Arab citizens to vote Netanyahu out.

But if the final polls are anything to go by, it seems unlikely that this round of voting will be any more successful in breaking the deadlock than the last four. Those polls suggest Netanyahu’s bloc will fall one seat short of a majority in parliament.

As in the previous four elections, Netanyahu himself and the possibility of a government he leads are crucial issues, especially as his corruption trial continues. a A poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) in August A quarter of respondents indicated that the identity of the party leader they voted for was the second most important factor in their vote.

But some senior center-right politicians who agree with him ideologically refuse to work with him for personal or political reasons. So to come back, Netanyahu, the leader of the center-right Likud party, will likely depend on the support of far-right parties to form a coalition and, if successful, may have to give up their leaders. ministerial positions.

Israelis are also very concerned about the cost of living, seeing their utility and grocery bills rise this year. In the same IDI poll, 44% said their first priority was what the party’s economic plan would do to ease the cost of living.

And security, which is always the main issue of Israeli politics, is on the minds of the voters. 2022 was the worst year for conflict-related deaths for both Israelis and Palestinians since 2015.

a a collection of recent queries A tally by Haaretz shows that Netanyahu’s alliance of parties is likely to either reach or just barely reach the 61 seats needed to form a majority in the government, while Lapid’s alliance is about 4-5 seats behind. .

According to pollsters Joshua Huntman and Simon Davies, last week’s polls saw a slight dip for Netanyahu’s bloc, showing it six polls ahead of the 61-seat threshold and nine short. The final three polls released Friday by Israel’s three major news channels showed his bloc with 60 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.

Recognizing the need to win just one or two seats, Netanyahu has focused his campaign in places that are Likud strongholds. Party officials have previously claimed that hundreds of thousands of potential Netanyahu voters did not vote.

Another important factor is Arab participation. Citizens who identify as Arab and have national suffrage make up about 17% of Israel’s population, according to the IDI; their participation could make or break Netanyahu’s chances. One party, the Arab United List, has warned that if Arab turnout falls below 48%, some Arab parties may not clear the 3.25% threshold needed to win a seat in parliament.

Along with food and utility bills and a nearly impossible housing market, Tuesday’s vote comes amid an increasingly tense security environment.

Earlier this year, a wave of attacks on Israelis killed 19 people, including mass attacks targeting civilians in Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities. This year has seen an increase in armed attacks by Palestinian militants on Israeli troops and civilian settlers in the occupied West Bank, killing several more Israeli soldiers and civilians. According to the Israel Defense Forces, there have been at least 180 shootings in Israel and the occupied territories this year, compared to 61 in 2021.

In the days leading up to election day, an Israeli man was killed and several others wounded in a shooting in the West Bank near Hebron. The next day, several soldiers were injured in a car attack near the West Bank city of Jericho. In both cases, the Palestinian attackers were killed.

According to the human rights group B’Tselem, attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank and sometimes against Israeli soldiers are also on the rise.

More than 130 Palestinians have been killed this year in almost daily attacks by Israeli security forces in West Bank cities. Although the Israeli military says the majority have been militants or Palestinians they violently interact with, including the fledgling Lion’s Den militia, unarmed and uninvolved civilians have also been caught.

It The death of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akley drew global attention in May when it covered the Israeli military offensive in the West Bank. A few months later, the Israeli military admitted that it was most likely its own soldiers who shot Abu Akley, saying it was an unintentional killing in a combat zone.

Palestinians are frustrated by their own leadership’s ability to resist Israeli occupation led to the proliferation of these new militants – and experts fear that a third Palestinian intifada, or uprising, is on the way.

Israeli elections.  Netanyahu is back as voters go to the polls in their fifth election in four years

There are 40 political parties on the ballot, although it is expected that about a dozen parties will overcome the threshold to appear in the parliament. Shortly after the polls close, at 10:00 p.m. local time (4:00 p.m. ET), major media outlets publish exit polls that provide a first look at how the vote went, although official vote tallies may differ from exit polls. often in small but important quantities. .

Only a dozen parties are expected to overcome the minimum threshold of votes needed to sit in the parliament.

After the votes are officially counted, Israeli President Isaac Herzog will hand over the mandate to form a government to the leader he deems most likely to succeed, even if they are not the leader of the largest party.

That candidate then has a total of 42 days to try to gather enough parties to reach the magic number of 61 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, Israel’s parliament, to form a majority government. If they fail, the president can transfer the mandate to another candidate. If that person is defeated within 28 days, the mandate goes back to the parliament, which has 21 days to find a candidate, which is the last chance before new elections begin. Lapid will remain as interim prime minister until a new government is formed.



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