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Israel: fifth election likely to result in political deadlock

Israeli MPs took oaths in groups of threes as a preventive measure against the coronavirus (Covid-19), leaving many seats empty throughout the Knesset session on 16 March 2020 [Mark Neyman/Anadolu Agency]
View of the Knesset on 16 March 2020 [Mark Neyman/Anadolu Agency]

As Israel's parliament, the Knesset, starts to dissolve itself today, opinion polls suggest that the country is likely to face another political deadlock, with no faction able to get clear victory in the General Election later this year that enables it to form a government. The polls predict that neither the current government alliance nor that of opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu will control a majority of 61 seats in the 120 seat parliament.

The predictions were aired on Israeli TV a day after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced that they would move to dissolve the Knesset following several defections from parties in the coalition. The country now faces its fifth General Election in less than four years.

Kan public broadcaster is predicting that Netanyahu's bloc would win 60 seats, with the current coalition parties getting 54 if the election was held today. Channel 12 News, meanwhile, predicted a 59 to 56 split, with Channel 13 News predicting 59 to 55. The balance of the seats would go to the Arab Joint List, which does not support either bloc, said the Times of Israel.

READ: Netanyahu is seeking Israeli premiership one more time

Tuesday's polls all showed Netanyahu's Likud as the largest party, garnering 35-36 seats, compared with 20-22 seats for Lapid's Yesh Atid, the next highest.

According to the Times of Israel, the Channel 12 poll predicted the result as follows: Likud, 35 seats; Yesh Atid, 20; Blue and White, 9; Religious Zionism, 9; Shas, 8; United Torah Judaism, 7; Labor, 6; Joint List, 5; Yisrael Beytenu, 5; Ra'am, 4; Yamina, 4; Meretz, 4; New Hope, 4. The Channel 13 poll predicted very similar results, as did the Kan poll, although it showed that Meretz would fall below the Knesset threshold for seats.

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