Trump expects 'close' Israeli election

An Israeli man walks past an election billboard in Jerusalem for the Likud party showing US President Donald Trump shaking hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (AFP Photo/AHMAD GHARABLI)

Washington (AFP) - US President Donald Trump on Monday predicted a close Israeli election as his ally Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to retain power in a neck-and-neck race.

"Big election tomorrow in Israel," Trump told reporters at the White House. "It's going to be close... it's a 50/50 election."

Israel is holding its second election in five months on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu battling for his political survival.

Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving prime minister, suffered one of the biggest defeats of his career after April elections, when he failed to form a coalition despite his right-wing Likud and its allies winning a majority of seats.

Rather than risk having Israeli President Reuven Rivlin choose someone else to form a government, Netanyahu, who could be indicted on corruption charges in the coming weeks, opted for a second election instead.

Final opinion polls released Friday indicated another tight race between Likud and the centrist Blue and White alliance led by ex-military chief Benny Gantz, and a repeat stalemate cannot be ruled out.

The poll is expected to once again amount largely to a referendum on Netanyahu.