Israelis have begun voting in the country’s third general election within a year which is seen crucial for incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is desperate to win on the eve of a criminal corruption trial against him. Israelis were voting for a third time in 12 months on Monday.

It is a tight race between embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who heads the right-wing Likud party and former army chief Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White alliance. More than 6.3 million people are eligible to cast their votes in polling stations, after which exit polls will be reported.

According to The Guardian, Netanyahu told Channel 12 that Gantz was “not fit” to be prime minister. “He is weak; he’s not a leader,” he said. Gantz said in another interview that his opponent was acting as if he was part of a mafia.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial will begin on March 17, according to the Israeli court on Tuesday, just two weeks after national elections are held.

PM Netanyahu is charged with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust under a number of cases in which he is alleged to have accepted lavish gifts from billionaire friends and exchanged regulatory favours for more positive media coverage. According to the statement, the court said that Netanyahu is expected to attend the initial hearing.