Jersalem, March 2 (IANS) Israelis went to the polls on Monday for a third vote in less than a year in the country’s parliamentary elections, hoping to break the deadlock that has paralyzed the nation’s political system.

After two inconclusive elections last year, opinion polls forecast another stalemate in a vote largely seen as a referendum on incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will go on trial on corruption charges just two weeks after Monday’s vote, The Times of Israel said in a report.

Polling stations across the country opened at 7 a.m. and were slated to close at 10 p.m.

On Sunday, the police said that they were setting up a special task force to deal with the law and order situation and to foil attempts to disrupt the elections with fake coronavirus reports

It added that a national desk had been established that would monitor the elections and “provide a response to the possibility of spreading false reports aimed at causing panic and disorder”.

“Large forces of uniformed and undercover officers will be stationed in and around the polling stations to identify illegal activities designed to corrupt the elections,” The Times of Israel quoted the police as saying.

Meanwhile, Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, the Director-General of the Health Ministry, said that Israelis should not hesitate to go out and vote in Monday’s national elections, and should not be deterred by the deadly coronavirus.

He said the coronavirus situation in the country was under control and added that 16 special polling stations were set up for the 5,630 people who are under home quarantine after returning from foreign trips.

Monday is the nation’s third election in less than a year, after neither Netanyahu nor his immediate rival, the Blue and White Party’s MK Benny Gantz were able to form coalitions in the last two rounds, and talks on a unity government fell through.

Twenty-nine parties were running, but no more than eight are likely to break the 3.25 per cent electoral threshold needed to enter the Knesset or Parliament, The Times of Israel added in its report.

–IANS

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