Israelis go to polls in referendum on Netanyahu’s record reign

Israelis began voting in an election on Tuesday that could hand conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a record fifth term or see him dethroned by an ex-general who has pledged clean government and social cohesion.

Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) across the country and close at 10 p.m. (1900 GMT). But the victor may not be decided immediately. No party has ever won an outright majority in the 120-seat parliament, meaning days or even weeks of coalition negotiations will lie ahead.

Dubbed “King Bibi,” Netanyahu has rallied a rightist camp hardened against the Palestinians and played up Israeli foreign policy boons that are the fruit of his ties with the Trump administration.

But the 69-year-old Likud party leader’s hope of overtaking Israel’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion, as longest-serving premier in July has been dented by a looming graft indictment. He denies any wrongdoing.

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