A divided and frustrated Israel goes to vote…again

The Israeli election, a third in less than a year, is widely considered a national referendum on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: Times of Israel)

There an unspoken weariness in Israel as for the third time in less than a year, the country goes to vote on Monday (March 2) following two previously inconclusive elections in 2019.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s longest-serving leader, is seeking re-election, but with a corruption trial fast on his trails the Israeli leader is once again on the ropes.

Opinion polls forecast another electoral stalemate, which may just prove to be the final nail in Netanyahu’s political coffin, as he goes on trial on corruption charges just two weeks after Monday’s vote.

This election campaign, the third time around, has been especially tumultuous.

President Donald Trump launched his long-awaited Mideast plan, a proposal that heavily favoured Israel and was considered an ‘election gift’ to the embattled prime minister.

Contrastingly, Netanyahu was forced to drop his bid for immunity from prosecution, and just a week ago, Israel battled Gaza militants in a two-day round of fighting.

Monday’s election could be viewed as another referendum on Netanyahu, but the country remains as hopelessly divided as ever.

Netanyahu, now 70, has taken to the airwaves and hit the campaign trail with seemingly boundless energy—presenting himself to adoring audiences as a global statesman uniquely qualified to lead the country through its many complicated challenges.

“We have turned Israel into a world power, a leader in cyber technology, natural gas, water, agriculture, technology, intelligence,” Netanyahu boasted at a recent campaign stop.

Benny Gantz, the latest contender and former military chief of staff, has focused his campaign on Netanyahu’s character, saying a man accused of serious crimes is unfit to lead.

He has painted Netanyahu as an out-of-touch egomaniac obsessed with remaining in power and escaping justice, while portraying himself as a moderate alternative to the polarising prime minister.