Israel holds its 21st general legislative election
Israelis began voting in an election today that could hand conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a record fifth term or see him dethroned by an ex-general who has pledged clean government and social cohesion.
Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. (04:00 GMT) across the country and close at 10 p.m. (19:00 GMT). Israeli democracy operates on a parliamentary system of proportional-representation in which the government needs a majority to rule. Since no party has ever earned more than 61 of the 120 seats in the Knesset, a coalition is required. 3.25% of total votes cast are necessary to cross the electoral threshold needed to enter the Knesset, Reuters reported.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud Party and Blue and White political alliance led by retired general Benny Gantz are the main rivals in the polls.
Voting is taking place at 10,720 polling stations across the country, plus another 96 at Israeli embassies and consulates abroad.
There are 6.3 million eligible voters in Israel, according to the country's electoral commission. More than 40 political parties are vying to win seats in the Knesset, although only 12 parties are expected to pass the electoral threshold.
After the election Israel’s president Reuven Rivlin will consult the leaders of every party represented in the 120-seat Knesset and select the person he believes has the best chance of forming a government.