Israel votes: Netanyahu’s fate hangs on Tuesday’s elections


2021-03-23 05:19:22

JERUSALEM: Israelis began voting on Tuesday in the country’s fourth parliamentary election in two years – a highly charged referendum on the divisive rule of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Public opinion polls forecast a tight race between those who support Israel’s longest-serving premier and those who want “anyone but Bibi,” as he is widely known.
Facing an electorate worn down by a series of campaigns and the coronavirus pandemic, candidates made their final push in recent days with a series of TV interviews and public appearances at shopping malls and outdoor marketplaces. The campaigns increasingly reached into people’s personal space with a constant barrage of get-out-and-vote texts that made cell phones ding and buzz at all hours.
Netanyahu has portrayed himself as a global statesman uniquely qualified to lead the country through its many security and diplomatic challenges. He has made Israel’s successful coronavirus-vaccination campaign the centerpiece of his reelection bid, and pointed to last year’s diplomatic agreements with four Arab states.
Opponents accuse Netanyahu of bungling the management of the coronavirus pandemic for most of the past year. They say he failed to enforce lockdown restrictions on his ultra-Orthodox political allies, allowing the virus to spread, and point to the still-dire state of the economy and its double-digit unemployment rate. They also say Netanyahu is unfit to rule at a time when he is on trial for multiple corruption charges, a case he dismisses as a witch hunt.



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