Israelis go to the polling stations
Israelis voted on Tuesday in an election that pollsters say is too close to call, with right-wing opposition leader and former PM Benjamin Netanyahu bidding to crash the centrist party of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Nearly 5.3 million people are eligible to vote, in 9,000 polling stations nationwide.
Likud party leader Netanyahu has lost ground to Livni since the 22-day war last month in Gaza Strip. Defence Minister Ehud Barak, a third prominent candidate, trails both Netanyahu and Livni, though his poll numbers have more than doubled since the Gaza war that ended.
Ultra-rightist Avigdor Lieberman has seen his popularity soar since the war that has focused public interest in the campaign on security concerns. Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu (Our House) party vows to get tougher with Palestinians, including Israeli Arab citizens and supports Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank.
Late Monday night, Israel has clamped a closure on the occupied West Bank, denying Palestinians entry to the country for the duration of the election, the army said, according to Reuters. Police were deploying thousands nationwide for extra security.