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Israel tightens security ahead of poll

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By UMMUL IDRIS

TEL AVIV- Israel has tightened security ahead of parliamentary elections on Tuesday, the fifth in about three-and-a-half years.

Around 18,000 members of the security forces will be deployed on electionday as some 6.8 million eligible voters cast their ballot, a police spokesperson said on Monday.

Former prime minister and current opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu is hoping for a comeback.

According to recent polls, his party, the Likud, could once again become the strongest force in the Israeli parliament, called the Knesset.

However, it is unclear whether a pro-Netanyahu coalition could form a majority.

According to the latest pre-election polls, his bloc could get 60 out of 120 seats.

This would again create a stalemate with the opposing camp of the current Prime Minister, Yair Lapid.

The turnout of the Arab population could be decisive.

The Arab minority makes up about 20 per cent of Israel’s approximately 9.4 million citizens.

If one of the smaller parties in the Lapid camp fails to clear the 3.25 per cent hurdle, this could pave the way for an ultra-right government under Netanyahu.

The far-right alliance of Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir is seen as a possible kingmaker.

Polls predict that their Religious Zionist Party could become the third strongest force in the country.

Smotrich presented a radical programme before the election, the implementation of which would lead to a weakening of the judicial system in Israel, according to Professor Jonathan Rynhold, political department head at Bar Ilan university in Tel Aviv.

The intended changes could also lead to the cancellation of the pending corruption case against the former prime minister Netanyahu. (dpa/NAN)

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