Daily US Times: Israelis have gone to the polls for the fourth election in less than two years, with the country still divided over whether PM Benjamin Netanyahu deserves to remain in office.
Polling stations were opening across the country and in the occupied West Bank, with some 6.5m registered voters set to deliver a result that could prolong the worst period of political gridlock in the country’s history.
Israelis do not vote for individual candidates, rather they vote for parties. During Israel’s 72-year history, no single party list of candidates has been able to form a governing majority in the 120-seat Knesset.
Benjamin Netanyahu has portrayed himself as a global statesman uniquely qualified to lead Israel through its many security and diplomatic challenges.
He has made the country’s coronavirus-vaccination campaign the centrepiece of his re-election bid and pointed to last year’s diplomatic agreements with four Arab states.
Opponents accuse Mr Netanyahu of bungling the management of the Covid-19 pandemic for most of the past year.
They say he failed to enforce coronavirus lockdown restrictions on his ultra-Orthodox political allies, allowing the disease to spread, and point to the still-dire state of the economy and its double-digit unemployment rate.
His critics also say he is unfit to rule the country at a time when he is on trial for multiple corruption charges, a case he dismisses and denies as a witch hunt.
Tuesday’s election was triggered by the disintegration of an emergency government formed last May between Mr Netanyahu and his chief rival Benny Gantz to manage the Covid pandemic.