Stuck in a stalemate, Israel celebrates another election on the future of Netanyahu

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he is seeking re-election on Monday under the weight of an impending corruption trial, and the country's third vote in less than a year is expected to end in another deadlock.

The elections follow two inconclusive votes in April and September that attenuated an aura of political invincibility enjoyed by Israel's longest-running prime minister, who has denied having acted badly in the three cases of bribery against him.

Opinion polls show neither the right of Netanyahu nor the Blue and White centrist party of its main rival, the former head of the armed forces, obtaining enough votes on their own, or with coalition allies, for a ruling majority in the Parlament.

A fourth election could occur in a few months if the deadlock does not break. Further stagnation could push Israel, where a budget for 2020 is still pending, to an economic limbo.

Participation figures will be closely watched, particularly given concern over the global outbreak and accusations of malicious rumors about pollution in areas seen as strengths for particular parties.

Voters under home quarantine, such as those who have recently traveled to Israel from coronavirus hot spots, can attend special voting centers if they wear surgical masks and show no signs of the disease.

Until now, Israel's economy has resisted political turmoil, with strong growth and a tight labor market. But the longer the stagnation continues, the higher the cost, including the lack of new funds for health, education, welfare or infrastructure projects until the parliament approves an annual budget.

The battle of Netanyahu to win an unprecedented fifth term has become more complicated since the previous elections, having been accused of bribery, abuse of trust and fraud for accusations that he granted state favors worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the magnates of the Israeli media in exchange for gifts. and favorable coverage.

Netanyahu will go to trial on March 17, when the coalition and post-election negotiations are probably in full swing.

'The accused'

Playing the character card against Netanyahu, Gantz called him the defendant and claimed that he sought to retain power to promote legislation that prevents authorities from prosecuting an acting prime minister.

Netanyahu has portrayed Gantz, 60, as a coward unable to face the many dangers Israel faces in the region and has suggested that he is hiding secrets that would open him to Iran's blackmail.

Each man says that the other is lying and not fit to serve.

Drawing accusations of racism during one of Israel's most controversial campaigns, Netanyahu has played with the suspicions of many Israelis about the loyalty of the country's Arab minority, which represents 21% of the population.

Gantz, said Netanyahu, would seek the support of Arab politicians in parliament to form a government and would tie his hands in any military action in the region.

Netanyahu expects a peace plan that the president of the United States Donald Trump presented in January will give you a boost at the polls, saying that your recognition of Israeli sovereignty over settlements in the occupied West Bank will allow you to annex them within a few weeks of the election.

The Palestinians have rejected the United States project by leaving them only with wedges of Swiss cheese territory for a state they are looking to create in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.