Israel Holds Second Round of Election

Tel Aviv, MINA- Israelis voted in the second general election on Tuesday, September 17. The election is the second in five months.

The final poll put the right-wing Netanyahu Likud Party in a tight competition with its main challenger, the Blue and White Party led by former military chief Benny Gantz. Meanwhile, smaller parties are considered to be able to have a big say in the final results, the BBC reported.

Negotiations regarding the formation of a new coalition are expected to begin as soon as the vote ends at 22.00 local time and an exit poll announced. Previously, Likud and Blue and White parties had 35 seats each in 120 parliamentary seats (Knesset).

In a campaign last week, Netanyahu said he would implement Israel’s sovereignty in the Jordan Valley if he won a record fifth term. The announcement was a promise to effectively annex 30 percent of the occupied West Bank.

Palestine wants the region to become part of its future state. Amid an international outcry, Palestinian leadership called the move a war crime, which would bury the prospect of peace.

Netanyahu also reiterated promises from the last election to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The settlement is considered illegal under international law, although Israel denies that.

“We find ourselves at the cusp of historic changes in the history of Jewish people and the State of Israel,” Netanyahu wrote in the Maariv newspaper on Monday.

In addition, Netanyahu faces a rival full of retired generals. They said they would end Israel’s growing divisions.

Gantz wrote in Maariv that a victory for Blue and White would change the course of Israeli democratic ship.

“Not looking for the interests of pressure groups, but rather the government that pays attention to the majority of Israelis,” Gantz said.

It is unclear Gantz’s position regarding Netanyahu’s plans to annex Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley. He also has not yet said whether he accepts the idea of ​​a Palestinian state, although he refuses to withdraw from all West Bank. (T/Sj/P2)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)