Elections in Israel raged amid Netanyahu’s quest to return to power

Voters in Israel on Tuesday cast their ballots for the fifth time في‭‭‭‭ less than four years in an election by which former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to return to power through a race likely to result in the rise of a far-right party to become the supreme speaker in forming Israel’s next government.

After years of political stalemate, voters have grown increasingly exasperated towards political parties, but growing support for the militant nationalist bloc (religious Zionism) has reinforced the campaign of the bloc’s supporters, opponents and co-leader Itmar Ben-Gafir.

Israel’s Director General of the Central Election Commission, Orly Addis, said the vote stood at 38.9 percent by 2 p.m., the highest by then in 23 years.

Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, is on trial on corruption charges he denies.

Expectations remain that Likud’s right-wing party will exit the elections with the largest number of seats in Parliament alone.

However, recent polls published last week showed that he would not be able to gain the 61 seats required to secure a majority in the 120-seat Knesset, opening the door to negotiations and debates that could last weeks to form a governing coalition and possibly lead to new elections.

Hajit Cohen, 46, from Tel Aviv, who works in the social sector, says, “There is a sense of despair about all these rounds of elections.”

She would vote for outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid and not for the centre-left parties she had traditionally supported.

Security and rising prices topped the list of voters’ fears in an election campaign that began after defections caused the collapse of the unconventional Lapid coalition, which formed after the last election and included parties from the right and centre, and an Arab party for the first time.

The campaign was launched weeks after a brief round of fighting with Islamic Jihad militants in August, amid months of violence in the occupied West Bank involving raids and clashes on an almost daily basis.

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