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February 29, 2020 1:04 pm
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Stalemate in Israeli Polls Ahead of Monday’s Election

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

Benny Gantz, head of Blue and White Party (left) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud party. Photo: Gili Yaari / Flash90 and Noam Revkin Fenton / Flash90.

As Israelis prepare to vote in parliamentary elections on Monday, there’s seems no end in sight to the political stalemate that has gripped the country for months.

Latest results show the Likud party of conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the centrist Blue and White party of his challenger, Benny Gantz, are tied in polls.

This is the third general election within a year and, once again, there seems to be no prospect of a working majority for either camp. According to a poll published on Friday by the conservative newspaper Israel Hayom, both parties would each win 33 of the 120 parliamentary seats.

A poll in the newspaper Maariv put both groups at 34 seats. A survey for the radio station Kan put Likud slightly ahead, with 35 seats.

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In all polls, both the right-religious and the center-left blocs were falling short of the numbers of seats they’d need to form a coalition that would have a majority. The third strongest force in the parliament looks likely to be the Arab-majority Joint List with 13 or 14 seats. The Israel Beitenu party of ultra-right ex-defense minister Avigdor Lieberman would have six or seven seats, according to the polls.

Two attempts to form a government collapsed last year due to a stalemate between the center-left and the right-religious groupings. Netanyahu is under pressure because of corruption charges, with his trial due to begin two weeks after the vote.

In the event of an election victory, 70-year-old Netanyahu is seeking the annexation of Israeli settlements in the disputed West Bank and the Jordan Valley, a measure provided for in the plan published by US President Donald Trump on January 28.

The plan provides for a Palestinian state, but has set some tough conditions that the Palestinian leadership is not prepared to accept. Gantz has said that if he forms a government after Monday’s vote, he’ll work to implement the Trump plan “in cooperation with other countries in our region.”

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