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Israelis cast ballots in third parliamentary election in 12 months

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-03-02 17:11
A combination photo shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem February 9, 2020 and Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White in Tel Aviv, Israel February 17, 2020.  [Photo/Agencies]

JERUSALEM - Israelis on Monday began casting ballots in parliamentary elections for the third time in less than a year.

Voting started at 7 am local time (0500 GMT) at 10,631 polling stations across the country and is due to end at 10 pm (2000 GMT).

According to the Central Elections Committee, which oversees the elections, there are almost 6.5 million Israeli citizens eligible to vote in this election.

Some 15 special stations have been established for the use of around 5,300 Israelis who are under mandatory self-quarantine for fear they might have been infected by COVID-19.

Quarantined voters will be able to cast their votes wearing disposable masks and gloves inside special ballot tents.

Vying for 120 seats in the one-chamber parliament, or Knesset, are 29 parties.

Polls show a tight race between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party and his main rival, former military chief Benny Gantz and his centrist Blue and White party.

Polls predict that both candidates will not gain enough votes to form a majority coalition.

The elections are shadowed by the imminent opening of Netanyahu's corruption trial, scheduled for March 17. Israel's longest-serving leader has been indicted with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in three separate criminal cases.

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