TEL AVIV, November 1. /TASS/. Polling stations opened on Tuesday at 07:00 local time (08:00 Moscow time) for Israel's early parliamentary elections, which will be the fifth since April 9, 2019. The results will determine the composition of the 25th Knesset (parliament), after which the process of forming a government coalition will begin and, if successful, a new government and prime minister will be sworn in.
According to the Central Election Commission, 6.78 million voters will be able to vote in these elections. According to the law, these are citizens over 18 who are currently in Israel or have left it on official business trips on Election Day.
All in all, there will be about 12,000 polling stations on Israeli soil. Their doors will be open until 10 p.m. (11 p.m. Moscow time). Shortly thereafter, exit poll results will be announced and the counting of the ballots cast will begin.
The elections are being held with heightened security measures. About 18,000 police officers will be involved in ensuring nationwide order on that day. The Israel Defense Forces’ press service announced that a 24-hour closure of the Palestinian territories would be in effect on November 1.
According to the latest polls, the main contenders to vying to win in the elections in the party standings are the Likud party of opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which can acquire about 30 seats in parliament, and the Yesh Atid party of headed by the current leader of the government, Yair Lapid, which, according to pollsters, can acquire up to 24 or 27 seats.
The extreme right-wing religious party Religious Zionism of Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich may receive 14 seats in the new convocation, and the bloc of National Unity (State Camp), based on the Kahol-Lavan (Blue and White) party of incumbent Defense Minister Benny Gantz may acquire 11 seats. Polls suggest that at least seven other parties will enter parliament, winning between four and eight seats.
Once again, analysts predict that the main battle will be over the politician who will be able to form a stable government coalition controlling at least 61 of the 120 seats in the Knesset. Otherwise, a new election could be held in Israel again.
Dissolution of previous Knesset
The current Israeli cabinet was formed by a coalition led by Naftali Bennett's Yamina and Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid parties following the parliamentary elections of March 23, 2021. In June of the same year, Bennett replaced Netanyahu as prime minister, a post he has held continuously since 2009.
By the middle of this year, the ruling coalition was failing to secure the necessary majority in the Knesset to vote on important bills. In particular, it failed to extend for another five years the important regulation on the application of Israeli law to Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which was due to expire on July 1. Under these circumstances, on June 20, Bennett and Lapid agreed to dissolve the parliament; the relevant bill was approved by the Knesset on June 30.
Early elections, the fifth in three and a half years, were then scheduled for November 1, and the premiership, according to the coalition agreement, was passed from Bennett to Lapid until new elections. Later, Bennet announced that he would not take part in a new election campaign. Lapid, the acting (or caretaker) prime minister, will lead the transitional cabinet until a new one is sworn in.