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Israel is voting. Netanyahu’s fate depends on Tuesday’s election

YERUSA ALE EU (AP) – Israelis began voting in the country’s fourth parliamentary election in two years on Tuesday. Referendum on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s divisive rule.

Polls predict a tough race for supporters of Israel’s longest-serving prime minister – those who want “someone other than Bibi” as he is widely known.

“Vote, vote, vote, vote, vote,” Netanyahu said after voting in Jerusalem, accompanied by his wife, Sarah. He called the occasion a “festival of democracy.”

“This is a moment of truth for the state of Israel,” said his rival, Yair Lapid, when he voted in Tel Aviv.

One truth. The Israelis are tired of the action. The vote, like the world-leading Israeli vaccination campaign, was well received by the organization, if only because all those involved had a lot of practice, and more so if the results did not create a ruling majority, more. That answer may not have been clear for weeks.

“It would be better if we did not have to vote four times in two years,” said Bruce Rosen, a resident of Jerusalem. “It’s a little tiring.”

The candidates made their last impetus in a number of television interviews in recent days, in public speaking malls and in open-air markets. Campaigns were becoming more and more commonplace, with people constantly going out to vote, whistling texts written on mobile phones that were slowing down and buzzing at all hours.

Netanyahu is more of a problem than an ideology. He presents himself as a global statesman who is exclusively qualified to lead the country through its many security and diplomatic challenges. He made Israel’s successful coronavirus vaccine campaign the focus of his re-election bid, citing last year’s diplomatic agreements with four Arab states.

The reality is more elegant. 80% of the nation’s 9.3 million people have been vaccinated, աբ Israel is reopening, but more than 6,000 have died from COVID-19. Israel has come under international criticism for failing to quickly send large numbers of vaccines to the Palestinians to fight the virus on the North Shore in Gaza.

And one of the four Arab states, the United Arab Emirates, recently poured cold water on relations with Israel because its leaders did not want Netanyahu to involve them in the pre-election period. President Joe Biden’s new administration also had a fun reception for Netanyahu.

Opponents accuse Netanyahu of tightly managing the coronavirus epidemic for much of last year. They say he failed to enforce restrictions on blocking his extreme orthodox political allies by allowing the virus to spread, citing the still-difficult state of the economy and his double-digit unemployment rate. They say Netanyahu mismanaged him when he was tried on numerous corruption charges, a case he dismissed as a witch hunt.

Up to 15% of voters are expected to vote outside their constituencies, and the number of missing ballots is higher than usual to accommodate patients with coronavirus or quarantine. The government is sending special polling stations, including ballot boxes, to patients’ beds to ensure that they can vote safely.

In Jerusalem, these votes are collected separately, which means that the final results may not be known for days. Given the narrow race, the large number of undecided voters, a number of small parties struggling to cross the 3.25% threshold to enter parliament, it will be difficult to predict the outcome until the final count.

“Almost constant propaganda comes at a price,” he said.

“Four elections in two years are undermining public confidence in the democratic process,” Reuven Rivlin said in a vote in Jerusalem, urging Israel to vote again. “There is no other way.”

Israelis do not vote for individual candidates, but for parties. No party list of candidates has been able to form a ruling majority in Israel’s 72-year history.

Netanyahu’s Likud party, led by his rivals, will see smaller allies as potential coalition partners. The party that can crawl together the majority coalition must form the next government. A process that is supposed to take weeks.

Elections on Tuesday saw the ouster of Netanyahu,’s main rival’s government, to overthrow the coronavirus epidemic last May. The bloc suffered from a bone of contention, and elections began in December after the government failed to agree on a budget.

Netanyahu hopes to form a government with his traditionally hard-line nationalist allies. These include a pair of ultra-Orthodox parties – a small religious party that includes outright racist – homophobic candidates.

Netanyahu’s opponents accuse him of paralyzing him for the past two years, hoping to form a more favorable government that will grant him immunity or protect him from persecution.

Among his challenges is Yair Lapid, the leader of the Israeli opposition, whose Yesh Atid party has emerged as Netanyahu’s main central alternative.

Lapid reflected the racial rhetoric of the tribe on Tuesday when he offered himself as an alternative to the “government of darkness and racism.”

Netanyahu is also facing challenges from a number of former allies who have formed their own parties after a bitter rift with the prime minister.

Among them is former sponsor Gideon Saar, who split from Likud to form New Hope. He says the party is a nationalist alternative, unburdened by allegations of corruption, saying it is a cult of personality that keeps Likud in power.

Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett, another former aide to Netanyahu, could be crowned king. Former Netanyahu’s defense minister, a tough politician Bennett has not ruled out joining a coalition with the prime minister, allowing him to judge both sides in future coalition talks.

The policy of individuality has bypassed the race so much that the Palestinians have been hardly mentioned after years of frozen peace talks.

Analysts expect voter fatigue to contribute to the low turnout, which stood at 71% in the last election a year ago.

Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist allies tend to be highly motivated voters. In contrast, Arab voters, frustrated by the collapse of the United List umbrella party, are expecting more votes this time around. Voters in the more liberal, secular areas near Tel Aviv also have lower voter turnout.

If these trends are implemented, Netanyahu can benefit. But unlike last year’s election, the prime minister has no key ally, former President Donald Trump, whom he backed in previous elections with massive billboards on highways showing them together on high floors.

In contrast, Netanyahu hardly mentioned Biden. The new president of the United States called the prime minister only after contacting the leaders of several other countries, կողմն Israeli supporters began to complain that the delay was being thwarted. The two men claim that their alliance remains close.

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Follow Kellman at http://www.twitter.com/APLaurieKellman

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