As a little recap, election day in Israel is here with current polls suggesting a tight race between the hawkish former premier Benjamin Netanyahu and centrist Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, with the far-right expected to make major gains. Following “Operation Cast Lead” in the Gaza strip and continued threats from neighbouring Iran, some parties are playing on the fears and insecurities of many Jewish voters.
5:30am alarm call. Ouch. First call of the day was to head out to the settlement village of Nokmid; the home of far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party leader Avigdor Lieberman. Located right in the middle of otherwise Palestinian-controlled land, the village has armed security guards as you enter and has managed to create a strong suburban atmosphere, despite being surrounded on all sides by the desolate lunar landscape of the West Bank.
With the polling station in order and the ballot box secured, the doors were opened for the small community to cast their votes.
At 8:30am, Lieberman arrived with his heavy security escort and cast his vote. As expected, any sense of organisation in the media disappeared as people pushed, pulled and slowly crept/collapsed forward. After a short speech in Hebrew (which I’m sure was full of messages of peace, love and unity), he headed one way and I headed the other, back into Jerusalem.
A quick liberal spraying of superglue to the screws on my very very annoying 70-200mm lens and a belly-full of pizza from the giant stack of 12 large Dominos delights in the office and a quick chance to go through my edits from this morning.
In an hour, I head to Tel Aviv for a long night of vote-count fever and a chance to complete my set of covering all four of the main political parties. Maybe this kid’s got the right idea..