ISRAEL – More than 2 million Israelis have exercised their right to vote as of 2 pm as polling stations struggle to keep up with the flow of voters. This indicates a particularly high voter turnout compared with the previous four campaigns. Polls will close at 10 pm. Polls at small communities will close at 8 pm.
A total of 5,656,705 eligible voters will be able to cast their ballots in 10,132 ballot boxes across Israel.
President Shimon Peres voted at the Charles E. Smith High School for the Arts in Jerusalem. “Today the state is asking citizens to vote for a free, beautiful, democratic country,” he said after casting his ballot.
He wished success to all the candidates and called on the public to exercise their right to vote.
Asked whether he had any doubts about whom to vote for he replied, “Everyone should have some doubts about who to vote for but not about the act of voting. All citizens must be proud of their country.” Confronted with claims that he intervened in the election campaign, Peres said: “Of course I intervene. I voted. Isn’t that intervening?”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the first of the candidates to vote, shortly after the polls opened at 7 am. Accompanied by his wife Sara and his two sons Yair and Avner, Netanyahu cast his ballot at the Paula Ben Gurion school in Jerusalem.
“We want Israel to succeed, we vote Likud-Yisrael-Beitenu … The bigger it is, the more Israel will succeed,” Netanyahu said after casting his ballot
“This is the first time the whole family votes together. I keep saying that the Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu represents the whole people and in this case the whole family. Anyone who wants Israel to succeed should vote for one large party.”
His son Yair remarked, “We call on all young people to vote Likud-Beiteinu, even if it’s not the fashionable choice.” His father then added, “and the national religious public too.”
Directly after casting their ballots, Netanyahu and his two sons headed to the Wailing Wall, where the prime minister placed a note that read: “With God’s help, for the future of Israel.”
Netanyahu said: “I go to the Wailing Wall to touch our people’s foundation, and I pray for the future of Israel and our nation.”