Polling stations opened this morning at 7am. Voting will end at 10 pm. The outgoing Prime Minister looking for a fifth mandate, an absolute record. The challenger Benny Gantz focuses on the desire for renewal. Advisor to the Palestinian Authority: "The Left does not exist today in Israel".
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - A referendum on the person and policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu which, depending on the result, could change the balance of the Middle Eastern region and redesign alliances and strategies.
Today’s general elections in Israel see the outgoing premier - in search of a fifth mandate, a record – pitted against the main challenger, the former head of the armed forces Benny Gantz. The senior officer, together with former Finance Minister Yair Lapid, founded the centrist alliance Kahol Lavan (Blue White) which could contend Likud for the final victory.
The polls opened this morning at 7 am local time and will close at 10 pm (8 pm in Italy). Analysts and experts, however, believe it unlikely that a clear winner will emerge from the hours following the vote. After all, in the last electoral rounds no party has ever reached an overwhelming majority in the Knesset (the Israeli parliament, consisting of 120 seats).
In all likelihood it will take days, if not weeks, of intense negotiations to shape the winning coalition and start forming the next government team.
"King Bibi", as the 69-year-old leader of the right-wing Likud party is called, campaigned fiercely rejecting the allegations of corruption and fraud and brandishing the threat of external danger (primarily Iran), which he alone - with the help of Trump - is able to foil.
59-year-old rival Benny Gantz tried to dismantle the image of Netanyahu as a guarantor of national security. For many, the hope is that this vote will bring "new faces and fresh air" to the country's ruling class.
The 64-year-old gynecologist Yaron Zalel, from the electoral district of Rosh Ha’ayin in Tel Aviv, says he has voted with conviction for the centrist leader Gantz. "I am excited - he says leaving polling station - because I believe we are entering a new era, today we are going to change the government". "Netanyahu - he continues - has done a lot for Israel, a lot of good things. But he has been in power for 13 years and that's enough ".
The opinion of Avi Gur, 65 year-old professor at the University of Ariel, is different, one of the 600,000 settlers living in the occupied territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. "I am enthusiastic, very enthusiastic. I hope the right will win, "he underlines with conviction. The Likud leader, he adds, "was the best Prime Minister we [Israel] ever had." "We are leaders - he concludes - in the high technology sector, we are leaders in security, we are driving the economy ".
Once the voting is over, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will begin the round of consultations with the leaders of each party that will enter the Knesset. He will then choose the person to be assigned to form the new government.
In the background, the Palestinians observe the vote with detachment. The conviction is that, in substance, it will bring few changes regardless of the winner. Nabil Shaath, long-term advisor to President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, points out that the differences between the various sides are less marked than in the past. "There was a time - he says - in which the elections were very important, because there was really more than one field in the field for Israel. There was a right and a left ". Today, he concludes, "we have a right, then a faction further to the right, the extreme right and, finally, an even more extreme right. Today there is no left wing in Israel ".