Polls opened today in Israel at 7 am local time (midnight Monday EST) with Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud fighting for power. The Likud is neck and neck with the center-left Blue and White party, who have been gradually gaining more and more support in the past months. According to the Israeli election committee, at 10 am local, the voting rate was the highest its been in 30 years, and all polls have been too close to call.
Here's some historical context: the last round of Israeli elections were held in April, just six months ago. However, Netanyahu and his party were unable to create a coalition - a majority formed by like-minded members of parliament from different parties - which left Netenyahu the most seats, but without a majority of votes to get anything done, so they were forced to hold new elections.
Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White party, said Tuesday that a vote for his party was a vote for change. "Today, we are voting for change. We will succeed in bringing hope, all of us together, without corruption and without extremism." Gantz has repeatedly accused Netenyahu of eroding Israeli democracy, and some analysts agree. "I think there actually is a pretty decent argument to be made that this actually is one of Israel's most momentous elections," says Michael Koplow, policy director at the DC-based Israel Policy Forum think tank. "Netanyahu has steadily been doing things that really erode any sense of separation of powers inside Israel and that call the independence of different state institutions into question."