Israelis turn out to vote in low key election

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Israelis turn out to vote in low key election

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Israelis are voting in a general election that looks set to take the country further to the right.

There has been little in the way of election fever. Political leaders cast their ballots early. The outcome is widely expected to bring the incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party a third term in office, but with a reduced majority.

No party has ever secured an absolute majority in an Israeli election and Likud will need the support of conservative allies.

Netanyahu has thrown his hat in with the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, led by the controversial former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.

One of those expected to do well is the Jewish Home Party led by Naftali Bennett. His pro-settlement group has struck a chord among voters and has eroded support for Netanyahu.

Unlike previous elections and with little prospect of a return to peace talks, the campaign has not been dominated by the Palestinian issue. Instead it has focused on economic and social concerns.

Netanyahu has said no Jewish settlements in the West Bank will be removed if he wins another term.

He has also campaigned on the need for stronger national security in view of the turbulence in the Middle East since Arab uprisings swept the region.