Israel’s general election is right around the corner and could see a tight race for Benjamin Netanyahu, who will have to beat Benny Gantz in order to become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. He formed the centrist Blue and White alliance with two other former military chiefs and the former TV anchor-turned-politician Yair Lapid. The coalition is now neck and neck with Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party in the polls as the country gets down to the final day before the ballots open.
Voting in the Israel elections will take place on Tuesday, with exit polls expected at 8pm BST.
A total of 14 main parties are currently competing for the 120 seats in the Israeli parliament Knesset.
In order to form a government, a party has to secure 61 seats to reach a majority.
No single party in Israel has ever won a majority so a coalition is the likely outcome.
Israel’s incumbent prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing Likud party who is seeking a fifth term in office, is expected to be in a better position to secure a coaltion deal.
If Mr Netanyahu is re-elected on Tuesday, he would be the nation’s longest-serving prime minister – but the political leader is running under the threat of being indicted on corruption charges.
The 69-year-old is involved in an investigation looking into one case of bribery and two cases of fraud and breach of trust.
But Mr Netanyahu has dismissed the allegations, saying it’s a “witch-hunt” organised by his opponents.
Despite the charges, the incumbent prime minister has for long been preferred over his biggest rival, former military chief Benny Gantz, according to pre-election polls.
Along with two other former Israeli army chiefs of staff, General Gantz quickly formed the Centrist Blue and White party in February 2019 – in alliance with Lapid – in a bid to unseat the prime minister.
Netanyahu’s main contender, a 59-year-old son of Holocaust survivors, has almost no political experience but seemingly hopes to appeal to voters by playing up his “clean” image.
And now he stands within striking distance of toppling Mr Netanyahu’s reign as he makes even more gains in the polls.
The final polls before Tuesday’s election show his Blue and White coalition winning more seats than Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party.
However, the same polls also show right-wing parties winning a narrow majority in parliament – which could be enough to keep Mr Netanyahu in office if he is able to broker a successful coalition agreement.
Some 63 percent of Jewish Israeli voters identify as right-wing compared to just 15 percent for the left and 18 percent who consider themselves centrist.
Israel’s current prime minister promised to annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank in a bid to win over allies this weekend – a pledge he has shied away from in the past.
Mr Gantz has not been very specific on policies he intends to implement but on security questions has taken similar positions to Mr Netanyahu.
The General has also refused to say whether he supports the idea of a Palestinian state but has promised to continue Israel’s campaign to drive Iran out of Syria.
The former military chief’s main pitch to the Israeli voters is that he is the “candidate of decency”, while claiming the current prime minister is prepared to tear Israel apart in order to hold on to power.
Speaking of his main rival, Mr Gantz has said: “We are speaking about a corrupt man who is destroying the country.”