Israel calls its third election in less than a year

Israel is sending voters back to the polls for a third time in less than a year - setting the stage for the electoral battle of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's political life.

Israel's parliament, the Knesset, voted for its own dissolution on Wednesday and approved a March 2 date for the election.

That's after neither Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party nor his main opposition, the Blue and White party, won enough seats to form a majority government in two previous elections.

Both Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, a former military chief, then failed to form a governing coalition.

In the two previous votes Netanyahu's opponents focused on three corruption investigations against him, that include allegations he dispensed favors to media barons in exchange for favorable media coverage.

But this time, the situation has changed.

Israel's longest-serving-leader will now be running under the cloud of criminal indictment after charges of bribery, breach of trust and fraud were announced against him last month.

Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing, accusing legal authorities of attempting a "coup" and has described himself as best placed to deal with Israel's many security threats.

An opinion poll on Israel's Channel 13 on Tuesday forecast Blue and White would win 37 seats to Likud's 33 in the 120 member Knesset.

That would be a one seat increase for Gantz's Blue and White - once again leaving Israel's main parties without a majority.

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