JERUSALEM: Polls opened at 7 a.m. for the 22nd Israeli Knesset made up of 120 members. A coalition of 61 seats is needed to set up a government.
The two biggest parties are the Likud, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, and Blue and White, headed by former Israeli army general Benny Gantz.
No government in the history of Israel has been formed without a coalition with smaller parties. The current election campaign has focused on a huge split within Israel’s Jewish population based on the difference between secular and religious Jews.
Soviet-born Avigdor Liberman who heads a small party Yisrael Beiteinu, politically is closer to Netanyahu on the right, but is extremely opposed to the religious parties which insist on a waiver from serving in the Israeli army. This makes it near impossible for Netanyahu to form a 61+ coalition.
The last elections in April were not conclusive and the winner of the largest block was unable to form a majority government.
The number of eligible voters is 6.39 million, among them nearly 1 million are Palestinian citizens of Israel. Among the voters, 14 percent are 24 years of age or younger, and 30 percent are 25-39 years old. The largest demographic of voters is between 30-59, which forms 31 percent of the electorate. One quarter of the eligible voters are over 60 years, according to official figures.
The Central Election’s Committee says 10,788 election boxes will be supervised by 3,000 civil servants hired by the Israeli central election committee. Since the last elections in April the number of eligible voters has gone up by 50,000.
Palestinian citizens of Israel hope for a rise in the percentage of voters from last April’s 46 percent which brought 10 Knesset members, when they ran on two sperate lists, to something closer to the 64 percent that voted for the joint list in the 20th Knesset and sent 13 members to the Knesset. The joint list which had broken up last April was reunited in the summer giving their leaders hope that this unity will produce better results.