As it happened: Israeli PM Netanyahu in tight race with Benny Gantz for unprecedented repeat vote

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Israel votes in an unprecedented repeat of April elections pitting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against retired military chief Benny Gantz in a race that exit polls show is too close to call. Follow our live blog and special TV edition.


Netanyahu, the longest-serving leader in Israeli history, is aiming for a fourth consecutive term in office. It would be his fifth overall.

In April, retired military chief Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White alliance (Kahol Lavan) and Netanyahu’s right-wing alliance led by the Likud party both won 35 seats. Despite being better placed to form a coalition, Netanyahu failed to do so and was obliged to call for snap elections.

Kahol Lavan has been polling even with Likud. But regardless of who wins, either party may struggle to form a majority coalition with smaller allies, forcing them into a potential unity government.

• If Netanyahu's Likud and his hard-line religious and nationalist allies manage to secure a 61-seat majority in the 120-seat Knesset, they are expected to approve legislation that would grant him immunity from prosecution. The prime minister is facing charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust; his wife was convicted in June for misuse of public funds.

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