- Title: WRAP: Israelis vote in close-run election
- Date: 17th September 2019
- Summary: ELECTION POSTERS DEPICTING FAR-RIGHT LEADER AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN
- Embargoed: 1st October 2019 15:50
- Keywords: israeli elections occupied palestinian territories netanyahu lieberman gantz
- Location: JERUSALEM / NOKDIM, TEKOA, BETHLEHEM AND RAMALLAH, WEST BANK / TEL AVIV, ROSH HA'AYIN, HAIFA, TAYBEH AND SHOMERA ISRAEL / GAZA CITY, GAZA
- City: JERUSALEM / NOKDIM, TEKOA, BETHLEHEM AND RAMALLAH, WEST BANK / TEL AVIV, ROSH HA'AYIN, HAIFA, TAYBEH AND SHOMERA ISRAEL / GAZA CITY, GAZA
- Country: Jerusalem
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA005AX1OLL3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:THIS IS A HIGHLIGHTS WRAP OF MATERIAL THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN PUBLISHED. IT DOES NOT CONTAIN ANY FRESH MATERIAL.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu battled for his political survival in the final hours of a close-run election on Tuesday (September 17), urging voters to support him to avert a "disaster".
Opinion polls put former armed forces chief Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White party neck-and-neck with Netanyahu's right-wing Likud, and suggest the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party could emerge as kingmaker in coalition talks.
An end to the Netanyahu era would be unlikely to lead to a big change in policy on hotly disputed issues in the peace process with the Palestinians that collapsed five years ago.
Netanyahu has announced his intention to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, where the Palestinians seek statehood. But Blue and White has also said it would strengthen Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank, with the Jordan Valley as Israel's "eastern security border". The Palestinians and many countries consider the settlements to be illegal.
The election was called after Netanyahu failed to form a coalition following an April election in which Likud and Blue and White were tied, each taking 35 of the 120 seats in the Knesset, or parliament. It is the first time Israel has had two general elections in a single year.
Netanyahu, 69, has cast himself as indispensable and blighted by voter complacency over his tenure - the longest of any Israeli prime minister. Prime minister from June 1996 until July 1999, he has held the post since March 2009 and is seeking a record fifth term.
Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) and will close at 10 p.m. when Israeli media will publish exit polls giving a first indication of the outcome.
(Production: Dina Selim)
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