Millions of Israelis are at the polls in the country’s first general election since 2015. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 69, is seeking a record fifth term in office with his right-wing party Likud after a decade in power. Polls opened at 5am BST (7am local time) and will close at 8pm BST (10pm local time), with results expected to trickle in overnight. Mr Netanyahu’s campaign has been dogged by allegations of corruption and polls suggest Likud is under threat of being sidestepped in results. General Benny Gantz has stepped into the running with his Blue and White alliance, hoping to snatch power from under the current Prime Minister’s feet.
The 120 Knesset seats are allocated by proportional representation for competing parties.
No party has ever won an outright majority meaning coalitions are the norm.
The final poll on Friday showed Mr Netanyahu’s party was neck and neck with centre-left challenger Benny Gantz, leading by 66 to 54 seats.
But with Mr Netanyahu’s history, it is thought he would be more able to form a lasting and successful coalition – although the results are anyone’s guess right now as the country heads to the ballot box.
FULL list of candidates in Israel election 2019:
Benjamin Netanyahu, Likud
The ruling right-wing party is known for being hard on defence and tough on Palestinians.
Many of its members oppose the creation of a Palestinian state.
Benny Gantz, Israel Resilience
Former military leader Mr Gant, 59, is the biggest threat to Mr Netanyahu. He runs the Israel Resilience party but is seeking election under the banner of his Blue and White alliance.
The latest polls on Friday revealed his new centrist coalition is on par with Likud.
The Blue and White alliance is a coalition of Benny Gantz’s Israel Resilience party and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid.
General Gantz says he wants to clean up politics and has so far refused to partner up with Mr Netanyahu on a future “national unity” coalition.
Avi Gabbay, Labour
The left-wing Labour party has faired less well in polls recently, having been in major decline since 2001.
Yair Lapid, Yesh Atid
Mr Netanyahu’s former finance minister, Yair Lapid heads up the centrist Yesh Atid Party.
He is also deputy leader of the Blue and White alliance and has an agreement to take over from Mr Gantz two-and-a-half years if Blue and White are successful.
The former journalist plays a key role in the alliance’s PR messaging.
Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, The New Right
This pair teamed up to form a new far-right party to appeal to secular constituents.
Ms Bennett has called for the majority of the West Bank to be annexed.
Moshe Feiglin, Zehut
The ultra-religious party has seen a surge in the polls.
Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi, Hadash-Ta’al
Hadash-Ta’al is a socialist Jewish-Arab group and gets huge sway among Israel’s 20 percent Arab minority population.
Ya’acov Litzman, United Torah Judaism
This party represents ultra-Orthodox Jews, or Haredim, of European origin.
Previous governments have had to rely on their support.
Other contenders include:
Arye Dery, Shas
Tamar Zandberg, Meretz
Moshe Kahlon, Kulanu
Rafa Peretz and Bezalel Smotrich, union of right-wing parties
Orli Levi-Abukasis, Gesher
Avigdor Lieberman, Yisrael Beiteinu
Abbas Mansour and Mtanes Shehadeh, United Arab List-Balad