JERUSALEM (AP) — Election officials in Israel are reporting relatively high turnout today, compared with previous years, as voters decide whether to return Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to office.
Sunny, spring-like weather is helping bring out voters. And a heavy turnout could favor Netanyahu's opponents, whose voters generally have a lower participation rate than the highly-motivated hard-liners.
Netanyahu is widely seen, even by some opponents, as the man best suited to lead Israel at a turbulent time. He has maintained a lead in the polls with a message that the country needs a tough-minded and experienced leader to face down dangers such as Iran's nuclear program and the rise of fundamentalist Islam in Egypt and other Arab countries.
His re-election to a third term would be expected to put Israel on a path to continued deadlock in peace efforts with the Palestinians, and further run-ins with the international community -- including Israel's key ally, the United States.
150-c-11-(Aron Heller, AP correspondent)-"more moderate face"-AP correspondent Aron Heller reports that even though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might be able to keep his far right coalition together after the election, he might choose to turn to the center to improve Israel's international image. (22 Jan 2013)
<<CUT *150 (01/22/13)>> 00:11 "more moderate face"
151-c-12-(Aron Heller, AP correspondent)-"the Middle East"-AP correspondent Aron Heller reports that the Palestinian leadership is not happy with the prospect of Benjamin Netanyahu's re-election. (22 Jan 2013)
<<CUT *151 (01/22/13)>> 00:12 "the Middle East"
149-c-16-(Aron Heller, AP correspondent)-"into his coalition"-AP correspondent Aron Heller reports that Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to be re-elected prime minister, but it's uncertain what kind of coalition he'll form. (22 Jan 2013)
<<CUT *149 (01/22/13)>> 00:16 "into his coalition"
GRAPHICSBANK: Voter casts ballot, over Israel flag, partial graphic (22 Jan 2013)
GRAPHICSBANK: Benjamin Netanyahu, as Israel Prime Minister, casts his ballot at a polling station in Jerusalem, graphic element on gray (22 Jan 2013)
APPHOTO JRL204: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu casts his ballot together with his wife Sara, left and sons Yair and Avner, background left, at a polling station in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. Israelis headed to polling stations Tuesday to cast votes in a parliamentary election expected to return Netanyahu to office despite years of stalled peacemaking with the Palestinians and mounting economic troubles. (AP Photo/Uriel Sinai, Pool) (22 Jan 2013)
<<APPHOTO JRL204 (01/22/13)>>