Polls show close results between Netanyahu and Gantz as ballot boxes close

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival, General Benny Gantz, have won very close results in the general election, according to opinion polls published Tuesday.

Three separate opinion polls conducted by Israeli television stations showed that both Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party and Gantz's Blue White coalition would get between 31 and 34 seats in parliament out of 120.

According to these polls, the election does not appear to produce a clear majority. The question is whether the two men will be able to form alliances in which 61 votes can be formed to form a government coalition.

According to the polls, the Arab joint list will get between 11 and 13 seats. Avigdor Lieberman, the former army minister and head of the Israel Beitenu party, will get between 8 and 10 seats.

If the polls prove correct, neither Benjamin Netanyahu nor his rival Benny Gantz will be able to form one with his allies without resorting to Lieberman.

"The era of Benjamin Netanyahu is over, and that means the deal of the century (the US peace plan) is over and this is a gift to our people," said Dr. Ahmed Tibi from the joint list of Israeli-Arabic radio.

"If Benny Gantz calls us, we will tell him our conditions after consulting with the parties of the joint list," he said, adding that "he may not want to contact us, but may want to form a government of national unity."

Tuesday's election came just five months after the April election. Official figures showed the turnout rate as of 8 pm was 63.7 percent, slightly higher than in the last election.

Netanyahu's Likud won 35 seats, while Gantz's coalition won 35. Netanyahu was charged with forming the government, but failed to form a coalition.

Netanyahu's danger goes beyond the question of staying as prime minister for the first time between 1996 and 1999. He was re-elected in 2009 to remain prime minister for 13 years, the longest-serving prime minister in Israel.

Many believe that if he wins, he will seek immunity from parliament to avoid prosecution, as he faces possible charges in the coming weeks in corruption cases.

The Israeli attorney general said he planned to indict Netanyahu for fraud, bribery and dishonesty after a hearing in early October, a few days after the election.

Netanyahu will not be asked to step down if indicted, but only if convicted and after all appeals have been exhausted.

Recognizing the dangers, Netanyahu spent the last days of his campaign trying to attract right-wing nationalists who are key to his re-election and to motivate his electoral base to vote.

In this context, Netanyahu made a controversial pledge to annex the Jordan Valley, which represents one third of the area of ​​the occupied West Bank, to Israel, if he wins.

In his campaign, Netanyahu focused on Israel's economic growth and his ties with world leaders such as US President Donald Trump, whose support for his re-election has not been hidden.

Gantz, in turn, has presented himself as an alternative to Netanyahu, warning that he is seeking a coalition with far-right parties that could help him seek immunity to avoid a parliamentary trial.

Gantz says he and his coalition of three former military chiefs of staff plan to form a unity government backed by the vast majority of Israelis.

Gantz adopts liberal positions on social issues such as civil marriage, but he is a "hawk" in security matters and a supporter of Israel's occupation of Palestinian land.


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