JERUSALEM: Polls on Friday predicted former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would come just one seat away from an outright majority in his quest to return to power in next week’s election, the fifth in less than four years .
Netanyahu, on trial on corruption charges he denies, is fighting for a comeback, aided by an alliance between his Likud party and the far-right Religious Zionism party – a pact that could test Israel’s foreign relations s he wins the ballot.
Two polls – one released late Thursday by Israel’s public broadcaster Kan and the other released Friday by the Maariv newspaper – both showed Netanyahu’s four-party bloc winning 60 of 120 seats in parliament in Tuesday’s vote.
“Netanyahu arrives on election day in good shape, but the battle is not settled,” wrote Haaretz political analyst Yossi Verter.
A deadlocked election could mean that Israel goes to the polls again in a few months, with Prime Minister Yair Lapid remaining in office as a caretaker.
Israel has been caught in an election cycle since 2019, the year Netanyahu, now 73, was charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three cases he describes as a witch hunt “rigged” policy intended to prevent him from being elected. .
After four inconclusive votes, Israel’s longest-serving leader was ousted in June 2021 by a fragile coalition of liberal, right-wing and Arab parties, which included Lapid’s centrists.
In Netanyahu’s bid for a record sixth term, he has allied himself with ultranationalist lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir, whose inclusion in a Netanyahu cabinet could upset Israel’s Western allies, as well as Palestinians and Arab countries with with which Israel maintains diplomatic relations.
The campaign has largely centered around Netanyahu, with security and diplomacy issues, including conflicts with the Palestinians and Iran, taking a back seat.
Netanyahu’s left-right and center rivals have vowed to keep him out of power, fearing that if Netanyahu’s bloc wins, he will bend Israel’s legal system to avoid a conviction.
Polls predicted the anti-Netanyahu bloc would win 56 seats and the Arab-led Hadash-Ta’al list, which said it would not join a coalition, would take four seats.

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