Gantz Casts Vote as Israelis Head to Polls in Election Seen as a Referendum on Netanyahu

Polls opened nation-wide Tuesday morning as Israel’s 2019 Knesset election is underway in what is widely seen as a race between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz. 

>> Israel election 2019: Full coverage

As the parties scramble to rally last-minute voters, the final poll before the election, published Friday, gave the right-wing bloc a solid lead over the center left, headed by Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan party.

– Haaretz Weekly Ep. 21

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 21Haaretz

>> Netanyahu releases campaign video calling Rabin more rightist than Kahane ■ Your comprehensive guide ■ All the news and analyses ■ FULL LIST: The parties and candidates running

10,000 polling stations are open nation-wide with some 6.3 million eligible voters. Hundreds of thousands are expected to warm the beaches, malls and amusement parks on the national holiday in which Israelis get the day off. 


9:55 A.M. Meretz files petition against Shas

Meretz filed a petition against the religious party Shas claiming its activists were distributing gifts outside polling sites in contravention of the law.9:50 A.M. Right-wing extremists disturb Arab community polling sites

After polling sites opened in Arab communities in Israel several towns complained that right-wing activists arrived at their voting sites with recording devices and hidden cameras. In Sakhnin, Arab party activists demanded that the right-wing extremists be removed from the site and filed a complaint with the police and the election committee.  

9:30 A.M. Netanyahu says Zehut will join largest coalition 

Netanyahu tells Likud ministers that Zehut leader Moshe Feiglin said his first call will be to the largest party. 

9:30 A.M. President Reuven Rivlin casts vote in Jerusalem

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President Reuven Rivlin goes to local polls in Jerusalem to cast vote. "The citizens of Israel, not party heads, will be the only ones to decide who will be the next prime minister and what the next government will look like. In order to make a difference you must go out and vote," Rivlin says. 

9:25 A.M. Polling stations in prisons and hospitals open 

Polling stations in prisons and hospitals throughout Israel open. 

9:20 A.M. Litzman and Knesset speaker Edelstein vote

Labor party leader Avi Gabbay brings his mother to the polling station in Jerusalem. Olivier Fitoussi

Deputy Health Minister and United Torah Judaism chair Yaakov Litzman votes in Jerusalem and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein votes in Herzliya. 

9:05 A.M. Ashkenazi and Feiglin vote 

Former military chief Gabi Ashkenazi votes in Kfar Saba and Zehut party leader Moshe Feiglin votes in Karnei Shomron. 

Arye Dery votes in Haifa. Yakov Cohen

9 A.M. Avi Gabbay votes in Jerusalem

Labor party leader Avi Gabbay casts vote in Jerusalem with his mother. "Today my mother voted Labor for the first time in my life. Just as my mother, we see many people who read our plan and see our team who are going to vote Labor for the first time today. You’ll be surprised."

>> How Gantz could erase the Israeli left | Analysis 

8:56 A.M. Benny Gantz votes in Rosh Ha’ayin

Ayelet Shaked casts her vote in Tel Aviv. Nir Keidar

Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz casts vote in central city of Rosh Ha’ayin, saying "We’re going to change the state of Israel." After casting his vote Gantz’s party issued a statement saying he will now go to Kfar Achim to visit his parents’ gravesite. 

Former military chief-of staff and Kahol Lavan candidate Moshe Ya’alon voted in Kibbutz Grofit. 

8:55 A.M. Meretz asks local election committees to examine ballots

After multiple reports about left-wing party Meretz’s election ballots being corrupted, Meretz said it had asked all local election committees to enter the ballots periodically and examine the state of the ballots

8:45 A.M. Election committee prohibits interviews 

Chair of Israel’s Central Elections Committee chairman Judge Hanan Melcer prohibits the media from interviewing politicians as electioneering is illegal on election day. Media outlets cancel planned interviews.

8.30 A.M. Ultra-Orthodox to protest election in Jerusalem

Israeli poll workers prepare a polling site on Election Day, April 9, 2019.Tomer Appelbaum

After plastering walls with anti-election posters in the religious Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea She’arim, warning "We are against the Zionist state, don’t vote in their elections," ultra-Orthodox residents plan a protest at 1 P.M.

Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community does not support the election or Zionism as they believe the Messiah must come before the State of Israel is established. 

8:04 A.M. Moshe Kahlon and Arye Dery cast votes

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) casted his vote in Haifa and Shas party chairman Arye Dery voted in Jerusalem. 

"If Kulanu gets another seat it will change the lives of millions of citizens, of the elderly, of the disabled, of the middle class, of young couples waiting for housing," Kahlon said. 

8 A.M. Ayelet Shaked votes in Tel Aviv 

Far-right Hayamin Hehadash party co-chair and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked heads to local polling station in Tel Aviv. 

8 A.M. Lieberman casts vote

Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, votes in settlement of Nokdim. "Churchill said bad governments are the result of good people not voting. I hope the public knows these sleazy tricks [Netanyahu is pulling] and will vote for real right-wing parties," Lieberman said. 

7 A.M. Polls open

More than 10,000 polling stations open throughout the country. Some 6.3 million eligible voters will cast their vote as hundreds of thousands of Israelis are expected to enjoy the day off. 

WATCH: Lawmaker Ahmad Tibi says Netanyahu killed the two-state solution

– Trump’s peace plan and the Arab vote in the Israeli election: A talk with lawmaker Ahmad Tibi