Polling stations opened across Israel at 7am local time (5.00am BST) for the 2019 Knesset election race between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz. Should incumbentPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu win, this will be his fifth term. However, ex-general and Kahol Lavan frontrunner Benny Gantz has pledged clean government and social cohesion.
The final poll before the election, published Friday, gave the right-wing bloc a solid lead over the centre-left, headed by Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan party.
When do polls close?
Across the country tonight the polls will close at 10pm local time (8pm GMT).
However, results may not be available immediately, as no party has ever won an outright majority in the 120-seat parliament.
This means days or even weeks of coalition negotiations will lie ahead.
Dubbed “King Bibi,” Netanyahu has rallied a rightist camp hardened against the Palestinians and played up Israeli foreign policy boons that are the fruit of his ties with the Trump administration.
But the 69-year-old Likud party leader’s hope of overtaking Israel’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion, as longest-serving premier in July has been dented by a looming graft indictment. He denies any wrongdoing.
Critics warn of “Bibi fatigue” and argue that the parliamentary election should bring fresh faces to high office.
Stalking Mr Netanyahu in the opinion polls has been Benny Gantz, a former chief of the armed forces and centrist political novice.
Buttressed by two other former generals at the top of his Blue and White party, Mr Gantz, 59, has sought to push back against Mr Netanyahu’s self-styled image as unrivalled in national security.
After the election, Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, will consult the leaders of every party represented in the Knesset and select the person he believes has the best chance of forming a government.