Israel goes to the polls in an election that looks set to take the country further to the right.
It means a move away from peace with the Palestinians and closer to confrontation with Iran.
Opinion polls suggest the incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu will be re-elected, but his Likud party will have a reduced majority.
Ultranationalist groups look set to make gains in the vote:
“I appeal to each and every citizen going to the ballot box: ‘Decide for whom you are going to vote – for a divided and weak Israel or a for a united and strong Israel and a large governing party, which will bring about the changes Israelis desperately hope for. I have no doubt that many, many people will decide at the last minute to come home to Likud-Yisrael Beitenu. There is no other ruling party. Thank you very much.”
One of those expected to do well is the Jewish Home Party led by Naftali Bennett. His pro-settlement group looks set to pick up 14 seats in 120 seat Knesset:
“I pray to God to give me the power to unite all of Israel and to restore Israel’s Jewish soul,” said Bennett.
The Labour party led by relative newcomer, Shelly Yachimovitch, has campaigned hard on social and economic reforms. She has refused to go into coalition with Netanyahu and could ship votes to Hatnua.
Hatnua led by former foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, want peace with the Palestinians and a more liberal Israeli society.
Livni, a former Mossad agent, sees a need to fill a vacuum in the country’s politics and present a genuine alternative to Israel’s right-wing leadership.
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