Benjamin Netanyahu is plotting a comeback and has aligned with far-right parties as Israel holds its fifth election in four years. Poll experts say it is too close to call and have pointed out that shifts, however small, in voter turnout could impact the former Israel prime minister’s chances, according to a report by the Guardian.
The polls suggest that neither the rightwing-bloc nor the centre-left bloc would be able to gather enough seats to form a government in the Knesset. Broadcast news agency Kan and Channel 12 and Channel 13 put the Netanyahu-led coalition one short of the majority in the 120-seat Knesset.
Yair Lapid, the incumbent Prime Minister, is leading the centre-left bloc and is predicted to win 56 seats. The Arab alliance may or may not support the Lapid-led bloc. They could win four seats.
The report by the Guardian outlined that if the polls are right then Israel could see a sixth election in the spring. It also outlined that if the Palestinian population’s turnout is low then Netanyahu could win the polls.
The Palestinian population here refers to the descendants of Palestinians who remained within the newly founded state after the 1948 war. These Palestinians have Israeli citizenship, while others prefer to be called Arab citizens of Israel.
The rise of the United Arab List (UAL) has impacted Israel’s politics but low-voter turnout could see Israel forming the most far-right leaning government in its history.
Netanyahu may pick the Religious Zionists, led by Bezalel Smotrich and the popular far-right icon Itamar Ben-Gvir, if he sees he has a chance of winning the polls.
Ben-Gvir and Smotrich have called for dismantling of the independence of the judiciary, according to a report by the Guardian and the Times of Israel reported that Netanyahu hinted at giving Ben-Gvir the post of public security minister, responsible for the police, if he forms the next governing coalition.
It would also help Netanyahu, also known as Bibi, beat corruption charges as he faces a trial. Ben-Gvir also wants to encourage ‘enemy’ Arabs who hold Israeli passports to emigrate.
Ben-Gvir and Smotrich and Netanyahu have also threatened to neutralise the recently signed maritime border deal with Lebanon.
Lapid urged the people to not vote for Netanyahu, whose 12-year reign ended after his involvement in several scandals surfaced and said that the former prime minister’s ‘extremist agenda’ should be blocked.
“The Religious Zionist party is set to destroy Israeli democracy, wreak havoc in the judicial system, endanger our soldiers and fight against gender equality and the LGBT community,” Yesh Atid, the centrist-coalition led by PM Lapid said.
Ahmad Tibi, leader of the Arab nationalist party Ta’al, also urged left-wing and liberal Israelis to vote for his party as well.
Turnout remains a headache for all camps. Around 12% of eligible voters among Palestinians citizens in Israel have boycotted elections for years and polls indicate that Palestinian turnout could reach 50% but that would not be enough for the Arab alliance.
Netanyahu’s chances also could be hurt if ultra-Orthodox voters don’t leave home on Tuesday, the Guardian reported. He urged the orthodox Jewish groups to come out and vote in order to save the ‘Jewish State’.
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