Middle East

Israel elections: Voters' views

Israelis go to the polls on Tuesday in a general election that is widely expected to return Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to office as head of a joint right-wing Likud-Yisrael Beitenu list.

But he is facing pressure from nationalist and religious parties such as Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home). At the same time, there are new options for voters to the centre and left of the political spectrum in the form of Hatenua (The Movement), Yesh Atid (There is a Future) and a resurgent Labour party.

The BBC's Chen Reuveni, Shira Gemer and Yolande Knell asked some Israeli voters for their views.

Gilad Shur, postgraduate student, Jerusalem

I think I will vote for Likud and Bibi [nickname for Benjamin Netanyahu]. I was waiting for them to publish their plan of action for the next four years but they've said it's useless to publish it in advance. I find that kind of insulting but I don't have other real options.

Bibi is a strong leader, maybe one of the only leaders in Israel. His attitude to the conflict [with the Palestinians] is that we should manage it and not immediately solve it. I think that is the right way. I still think this is the main issue. I think there is no chance of [a] two states [solution].

I think my wife is voting for [Yair] Lapid [leader of Yesh Atid]. The relationship between the sections of Israeli society is more important for her. Usually you prefer to deal with the conflict or you prefer talking about economics and social issues.

Deena Singer, behaviour consultant, Gush Etzion settlement bloc

I am a little nervous about what is going to happen. I feel like the government hasn't really been taking a stand on some of the more important issues.

I live in the West Bank and one of the most important things to me is keeping all the land of Israel in the hands of the Jews. I don't look at it as the [occupied Palestinian] territories. I look at it as part of our land. I am looking for a leader who will stand up for that and not be wishy-washy and pushed around by all the other governments in the world.

I might be voting for Bibi [Netanyahu] with the hope that he will push forward and possibly be a little stronger. The reason I wouldn't go with a smaller guy who was more right-wing - which would be my initial inclination - is because the chances that he actually gets elected are slim and I'd like my vote to count.

Liran Yaniv, undergraduate student, Jerusalem

It's going to be a very important election. For better or worse, I think it's going to change the political situation in Israel for years to come. Most important for me would be the separation of religion and state or economic/social issues.

Many students were involved in the economic protests in the last two years and I would say most are voting for the centre-left. I'll probably vote for Avoda [Labour], or to the left for Meretz, but I'm also considering Yesh Atid headed by Yair Lapid.

I had great hopes when Likud and Yisrael Beitenu joined together that we would be back to an era of two major parties fighting against each other. I think that gives stability.

I was very disappointed when the centre-left parties started arguing among themselves as this won't give good opposition against the right-wing parties. This Knesset [parliament] will be dominated by the right but I hope that afterwards the centre-left parties will unite.

David, advertising worker, Jerusalem

We'll vote for whoever the senior rabbis tell us to vote for and they tell us to vote for the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties. As long as the Haredi parties are in government we'll know that it is under God's protection. In the former election I voted for Agudat Israel - a Haredi party. In the upcoming elections, we are not sure whether to vote for Agudat Israel or Shas.

We prefer that the Haredi parties will be in a coalition with Netanyahu, because there is no-one else around.

In the upcoming elections as well as the economic situation, there is the security situation. Iran is arming itself, and the [Lebanese Islamist movement] Hezbollah is arming itself, and the [Palestinian Islamist group] Hamas is arming itself and the Palestinians don't want peace. But the nation of Israel was founded 3,000 years ago when we received the Torah and we have God's protection and fear nothing.

Jawdat Ibrahim, businessman, Abu Ghosh

I am an Israeli-Arab, I was born here in Abu Ghosh, a small town between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It's a tourist place and most of my customers are Jewish. When I talk to ordinary people, they are looking for change - they want peace and they are worried about the economy.

Everyone knows the next government is going to be the same thing, maybe worse. Netanyahu is going to stay and the only chance of change is that more right-wing parties will join with him.

I'm disappointed but I am going to vote. A lot of Israeli Arabs don't vote because they have no hope.

The economy is very important for us. We have high unemployment. In terms of housing, young people have no place to go. We are 20% of Israelis but if you look at the budget, we don't get 5% of it. There are Arab parties but they have no power because they're not in the coalition.

Ella Zada, Ashkelon

I'm not going to vote this time because I have no faith whatsoever in anyone. I just stopped believing in politicians. Nor do I believe that anything can change in this country: the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. We just keep working hard while the religious people sit and pray and don't work.

I voted for [Kadima leader Tzipi] Livni last time and she disappointed me. This time, I should probably go for Shelly [Yachinovich [Labour leader], as social equality is the thing that matters most to me. But as she said she won't join Netanyahu's coalition, I just know it's going to be like Livni all over again - sitting in the opposition and not doing anything.

While security is an issue that's important to me, I think that any party will take care of that since it's critical.

Shalev Revivo, research assistant at a technology company, Ashkelon

I'm going to vote for Yair Lapid. I find him convincing and refreshing on our repulsive political map.

As someone who's living in southern Israel, I tend to go for the right - politically speaking. I'm looking for stability and a sense of security. Many people living in Ashkelon and southern Israel, myself included, are fed up with the ongoing conflict with Gaza and the way it affects our lives.

On the other hand, as a reservist, as someone who's serving his country with pride and dignity, I'm drawn to the left side of the map. I think that the country needs to give a little bit back to those who serve it. I believe in social equality, something the Likud party has failed to achieve.

Four years ago, most of my friends and family voted for Likud, but now, some are going with central parties, like Livni's. I think it's clear that Netanyahu will form the next government, I think he will be joined by Naftali Bennett and the religious parties. And then I think that Lapid has the best shot at fitting in as well.