Netanyahu Seeks Re-election as Israel Goes to Polls

22 Jan 2013

Views: 2,067

Font Size: a / A

241112F.Benjamin-Netanyahu.jpg - 241112F.Benjamin-Netanyahu.jpg

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu


Israelis have begun voting in a general election, with opinion polls suggesting PM Benjamin Netanyahu will return to office but with a reduced majority.

Campaigning in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said the choice was between parties that would lead to "a divided and weak Israel or a united and strong Israel".

Analysts say Netanyahu is likely to form a new right-wing coalition.

Unlike previous elections, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has not been high on most parties' campaign agendas.

Social and economic issues have emerged as key concerns among voters in the run-up to the polls, reports the BBC.

According to final opinion polls, Netanyahu's joint Likud-Yisrael Beitenu party list will win about 32 seats - down from the previous election but enough to form a majority with right-wing parties.

A right-wing bloc is expected to give Netanyahu support of about 63 seats in the 120-member Knesset (parliament).

Netanyahu called early elections last October after his coalition had failed to agree the annual budget.

His joint party ticket has consistently led opinion polls, but recently lost support to a new ultra-nationalist party, Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home).

Some 1,000 polling stations opened on Tuesday at 07:00 local time (05:00 GMT) and will close at 22:00.

For the first time the public is able to follow the counting of ballots in real time on a government website, Israel's Haaretz newspaper reports.

The first results are expected overnight.

Speaking at his final campaign appearance, Netanyahu said he was confident of a late surge in support.

"I have no doubt that many, many people will decide at the last minute to come home to Likud-Yisrael Beitenu.

"I have a good feeling. And at the last minute, I appeal to each and every citizen going to the ballot box: Decide for whom you are going to vote - for a divided and weak Israel or for a united and strong Israel and a large governing party."

Likud-Yisrael Beitenu's right-wing dominance has been challenged by Bayit Yehudi, led by millionaire businessman Naftali Bennett - Netanyahu's former chief-of-staff.

Tags: Politics, World, Featured, ISRAEL POLLS, Netanyahu, RE-ELECTION

Comments: 0


Add your comment

Please leave your comment below. Your name will appear next to your comment. We'll also keep you updated by email whenever someone else comments on this page. Your comment will appear on this page once it has been approved by a moderator.

comments powered by Disqus