Israelis head to the polls for third time in 12 months in bid to break stalemate

Israelis head to the polls today to vote in legislative elections for the third time in twelve months. Incumbent Prime

israel election

Photo: David Vaaknin for Vox

Israelis head to the polls today to vote in legislative elections for the third time in twelve months.

Incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party lead slightly in the polls against Benny Gantz and his centrist Blue and White Party. However, Gantz has been buoyed by Netanyahu’s former ally turned kingmaker Avigdor Lieberman; the unlikely pair have promised that there will not be a fourth election.

Today’s vote is a referendum on Netanyahu’s conduct and voter trust in him—his upcoming trial for corruption and bribery is set to start one day after the new government’s swearing-in. The election presents two paths for the question of Israeli-Palestinian peace and regional stability: Gantz and Netanyahu both support the Washington-designed peace plan, but Gantz hopes to appeal to moderate Likud party members by seeking regional support from Israel’s neighbours, an idea opposed by Likud.

A fourth election appears increasingly possible. Friday opinion polls suggest another stalemate between Netanyahu and Gantz. While Netanyahu has been indicted for bribery and fraud, support for Israel’s longest-serving prime minister has not faltered.

Turnout could tip the scales, as more and more Israelis are expected to stay home. In the previous round of voting, Gantz supporters appeared at the polls in greater numbers than Netanyahu backers.

Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.