Jerusalem, Apr 9: Israel is all set to go for polls on Tuesday in which 39 parties are in fray to woo more than 6.3 million eligible voters in the 21st Knesset poll.
The results are likely to be announced on Thursday. Incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a tough challenge from former army chief of staff Benny Gantz. Over 10,000 polling stations are set up across the country.
Mr Netanyahu is seeking a fifth term in office that would make him Israel’s longest-serving leader, surpassing first Prime Minister of the country David Ben-Gurion.
The PM has to defeat Mr Gantz in order to get his fifth term. Mr Gartz, who giving stiffest challenge to Mr Netanyahu in a decades, is a telegenic former military chief making his first foray into politics, who has united his fledgling faction with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party and former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon’s Telem party to create Blue and White.
According to Times of Israel, surveys have shown Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party were neck to neck or slightly ahead of Netanyahu’s Likud party, but with Netanyahu far better placed to muster a majority coalition of right-wing parties and retain his office.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a campaign video imploring voters not to repeat the mistake made in 1992, "when they also brought a general, a respectable one, Yitzhak Rabin, who spoke to the right of Kahane," referring to the racist US-born Rabbi whose followers now lead the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, a part of the Union of Right-Wing Parties, Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper reported.
Mr Netanyahu goes on to say Rabbi formed a left-wing party which brought about Oslo and "the vilest killers into the country, they brought them into Judea and Samaria and we got a disaster." ''The right is not in danger, Mr Netanyahu is in danger. It is not a security threat, but a legal one,'' Benny Gantz told Army Radio.
Mr Gantz also vowed to form ''a cabinet of reconciliation, with representatives from the [current] coalition and opposition''. Soldiers, foreign envoys, prisoners and hospitalised patients are also allowed to cast their votes, special booths have been set up in hospitals, prisons, among other places. UNI