The makeup of the next Knesset, the Israeli parliament, will soon take shape as polls in the Jewish state close at 10 p.m. local time (4 p.m. EDT). Tel Aviv-based television station i24news will be live-streaming results and providing election coverage in English, which you can view below:
The last polls before election day showed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party trailing slightly behind the Zionist Union, a coalition of the center-left Labor party and the smaller Hatnua. Up for grabs in the election are all 120 seats in the Knesset. Israeli parties have never won an outright majority, and Tuesday’s results could see as many as 10 of them win seats. That means either Likud or the Zionist Union will have to form a coalition government with several other parties.
Exit polls are expected from the Israeli media shortly after the polls close, but full official results aren’t expected until Wednesday. The exit polls will take the mood of the Israeli electorate and may indicate whether Likud’s appeal on security or the Zionist Union’s economic policies are favored by a plurality of voters. Israel’s political spectrum ranges from the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas and settler-backed Jewish Home to the Joint List of Israeli Arab parties.
As all parties made last-ditch appeals for votes Tuesday, Netanyahu accused the election commission of unfair treatment when it banned an address he was set to make because it amounted to “illegal election propaganda.” “All day, politicians have been talking in the media… The only one barred from talking over the media – is me. The Likud prime minister,” he said in a Facebook post, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Meanwhile, Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog of the Labor Party took to the social media site to slam Netanyahu as a “hysterical, divisive, inciting prime minister.”
The prime minister sat off a new controversy earlier in the day when he said Likud was in danger of losing because Arab Israelis were “coming out in droves to the polls.” He accused left-wing parties of busing Arabs to the polls. Opposition leaders then accused him of racism.
High turnout was reported Tuesday, with nearly 55 percent of eligible voters casting ballots as of 6 p.m. local time, according to the Jerusalem Post. Turnout may reach levels not experienced in more than 15 years, the paper reported.