Israel’s election campaign kicks off, polls predict further deadlock

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Israeli political parties submitted their final lists of candidates on Thursday for an unprecedented fifth election in four years, which looks unlikely to break the deadlock between former premier Benjamin Netanyahu and his bitter rivals.

The Nov. 1 ballot will see the veteran Netanyahu leading a bloc of right-wing and ultra-religious parties against centrist Prime Minister Yair Lapid who is leading a far more fragmented camp, spanning left to right.

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So far polls have shown neither camp winning an outright majority in Israel’s 120-seat Knesset, an outcome that analysts say could leave Israel facing many more months of political uncertainty as economic and security troubles mount.

Since 2019, Israel has seen four inconclusive elections deliver two short-lived coalition governments and just one state budget while Netanyahu stands trial on corruption charges that he denies.

“Israel has been in political crisis mode since 2019. This has deep implications for policymaking across the board. The country is paying a price,” said Israel Democracy Institute President Yohanan Plesner.

He noted long-needed economic, education and transportation reforms that would help lower soaring living costs and expand Israel’s work force.

Netanyahu, who was in power consecutively from 2009 to 2021, on Wednesday pledged to form a “strong, stable and national” government that he pledged would “quash terrorism, restore national pride and reduce living costs.”

But while his Likud party is likely to be the largest in parliament, recent polls show his camp, comprising three more factions, falling between one and four seats short of a commanding majority.

At the same time, Lapid’s camp is set for an even weaker showing and its various parties have ruled out membership in any Netanyahu coalition government.

“Unfortunately, a slide into a sixth election campaign after the fifth is not inconceivable. It’s not science fiction,” Plesner said.

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