Voting begins in Israel's parliamentary polls amidst a lingering political deadlock

TEL AVIV: Voting was in progress on Tuesday, March 23, for Israel's parliamentary polls, the fourth such elections in a span of two years, amidst a lingering political deadlock and with polls suggesting a tight race between blocs that back Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and those that seek to oust him.

Voting commenced at 7 am. in 13,685 polling stations across the country, and is due to end at 10 p.m., reports by Xinhua news. According to the Central Election Committee, some 6,578,084 Israeli citizens are eligible to vote in this election. Drones will be deployed to monitor about 751 ballots designated for people on Covid-19 quarantine, according to Committee chief Orly Ades.

Some 38 polling stations have been installed for patients in coronavirus units inside hospitals. Four ballots will be operated at the Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv to enable returning Israelis to vote after two-month-long restrictions on entering the country was lifted earlier this week.

Polls predict that Netanyahu's right-wing Likud will emerge again as the biggest party in Israel's Knesset, DPA news agency reported. But they also indicate the 71-year-old will face great difficulty in building a functioning coalition that can command at least 61 lawmakers in the 120-seat legislature.

Netanyahu hopes that Israel's successful vaccination campaign under his leadership, as well as the historic US-brokered normalization deals he signed in September 2020 with Gulf states, will boost his chances in this fourth round.

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