Voting is under way in Israel in a poll that is expected to be a close race between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party and a centre-left alliance. BBC reports, live from there:
The centre-left Zionist Union promises to repair relations with Palestinians and the international community. Mr Netanyahu, whose party has trailed in opinion polls, vowed on Monday not to allow the creation of a Palestinian state if he wins a fourth term. The economy and living standards have emerged as key issues.
Polls opened at 07:00 (05:00 GMT) and are due to close at 22:00. Results could be declared soon afterwards, but a lengthy period of negotiations over the formation of the next coalition government may follow.
Under a sunny Jerusalem sky, voters have been turning out at a polling station surrounded by election posters, party volunteers on hand for a last-minute push. Among them is the banner of Likud, the right-wing party of Benjamin Netanyahu, with the slogan “It’s us or them… only Likud”.
But Israel’s prime minister for the past six years knows it could well be “them” after today’s vote. Behind in the last opinion polls, he faces the political fight of his life. Even if he loses to the opposition Zionist Union, though, he still stands a better chance of building a coalition. The centre of gravity of Israeli politics is largely on the right – the Zionist Union could struggle to find the partners needed for a 61-seat majority.