The Latest: Israel kingmaker Lieberman vows unity government

The Latest: Israel kingmaker Lieberman vows unity government
An election campaign billboard shows the Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz, in the Arab town of Baqa al-Gharbiyye, northern Israel, Monday, Sept. 16, 2019. The Arab writing says, " I commit to work for you." Israel will hold general elections on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on the Israeli election (all times local):

9:00 a.m.

The potential kingmaker of the Israeli election says he will insist upon a unity government between the two largest factions.

Avigdor Lieberman cast his vote early on Tuesday in his settlement of Nokdim. Lieberman, a former defense minister and one-time protégé of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, forced Israel’s unprecedented second election of the year when he refused to join Netanyahu’s coalition government after the previous election in April.

Polls suggest Netanyahu won’t be able to form another coalition without Lieberman’s support.

Lieberman says there won’t be a third round of elections and the parties will have to deal with the “constellation” that emerges from this vote.

He says he will only sit in a wide government that includes Netanyahu’s Likud and its main challenger, the centrist Blue and White party.


7:00 a.m.

Israelis have begun voting in an unprecedented repeat election that will decide whether longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stays in power.

Against the prospect of a likely indictment on corruption charges, Netanyahu is seeking a fifth term.

He faces a stiff challenge from retired military chief Benny Gantz, whose centrist Blue and White party is running even with Netanyahu’s Likud. Both parties could struggle to form a majority coalition with smaller allies, though, forcing them into a potential unity government.

It’s the second election this year, after Netanyahu failed to build a coalition following April’s vote and dissolved parliament.

Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday with exit polls expected at the end of the voting day at 10 p.m. Official results are projected to come in overnight.