Netanyahu expected to win third term

JERUSALEM, Jan. 22 (UPI) --
Israelis voted in parliamentary elections Tuesday widely expected to return Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to a third term but with a reduced majority.

Security was tight for the vote, with more than 20,000 police officers deployed across the country. Some 5.6 million Israelis were eligible to vote.

Netanyahu, who voted in Jerusalem with his wife, Sara, and sons Yair and Avner, called on Israelis to vote for the center-right Likud and right-wing nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu parties, which formed an alliance before the election.

"I keep saying that the Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu represents the whole people and in this case the whole family," Netanyahu told reporters standing with his family after voting. "Anyone who wants Israel to succeed should vote for one large party."

Opinion polls indicate Netanyahu's joint Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu alliance will win about 32 seats in Parliament, or Knesset, down from the previous election but enough to form a majority with right-wing parties.

A right-wing bloc is expected to give Netanyahu support of about 63 seats in the 120-member Knesset, the BBC said.

Netanyahu called early elections in October after his coalition failed to agree the annual budget.

A victory right after U.S. President Barack Obama's inauguration would probably embolden Netanyahu, The New York Times said, letting him continue his aggressive approach toward Iran, while mostly ignoring the Palestinian conflict.


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