Voting underway in Israel’s parliamentary polls

March 22, 2021, Tel Aviv, Israel, Israel: A picture taken on March 21, 2021, shows a campaign banner depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his challenger, Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid, ahead of the March 23 general election.

Tel Aviv, (Asian independent)┬áVoting was underway on Tuesday for Israel’s parliamentary polls, the fourth such elections in a span of two years, amidst a lingering political deadlock and with polls suggesting a tight race between blocs that back Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and those that seek to oust him.

Voting started at 7 a.m. in 13,685 polling stations across the country, and is due to end at 10 p.m., reports Xinhua news agency.

According to the Central Election Committee, some 6,578,084 Israeli citizens are eligible to vote in this election.

Drones will be deployed to monitor about 751 ballots designated for people on Covid-19 quarantine, according to Committee chief Orly Ades.

Some 38 polling stations have been installed for patients in coronavirus units inside hospitals.

Four ballots will be operated at the Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv to enable returning Israelis to vote after two-month-long restrictions on entering the country was lifted earlier this week.

Polls predict that Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud will emerge again as the biggest party in Israel’s Knesset, dpa news agency reported.

But they also indicate the 71-year-old will face great difficulty in building a functioning coalition that can command at least 61 lawmakers in the 120-seat legislature.

Tuesday’s election comes two weeks ahead of the start on April 5 of the evidence phase of Netanyahu’s corruption trial.

When voters headed to the polls in March 2020, the fact that the trial was set to start in May did not stop them from returning Netanyahu to power at the head of the country’s largest party.

Netanyahu hopes that Israel’s successful vaccination campaign under his leadership, as well as the historic US-brokered normalisation deals he signed in September 2020 with Gulf states, will boost his chances in this fourth round.

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