World News

    Israelis Go to Polls in Heavy Turnout

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu casts his ballot at a polling station in Jerusalem, January 22, 2013.
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu casts his ballot at a polling station in Jerusalem, January 22, 2013.
    Scott Bobb
    Israelis flocked to polling stations Tuesday for a parliamentary election that is expected to give nationalist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a third term in office.

    Israel's electoral commission said 47 percent of voters had cast their ballots by 4 p.m. local time on Tuesday, marking the highest mid-day turnout for an election in 14 years.

    Opinion polls leading up to the vote consistently showed that Netanyahu's ruling Likud party, paired with its secular nationalist partner Yisrael Beitenu, were likely to win the most seats for their joint party list, far ahead of the main opposition center-left Labor party.

    Israel's Major Political Parties:
     
    • Likud: Israel's main conservative party; supports the Israeli settlement movement in the occupied West Bank
    • Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home): Secular, nationalist party that wants to redraw borders so that parts of Israel with large Arab populations would be in a Palestinian state
    • Yesh Atid: Centrist party founded by former journalist Yair Lapid in 2012
    • Labor: Center-left party; supports renewing peace negotiations with the Palestinians and dismantling most Israeli settlements
    • Shas (Union of Sephardic Torah Observers): Represents Israel's ultra-orthodox Jews of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Spanish origin and advocates a nation based on Jewish religious law
    • Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home): Far-right party that advocates annexing more than half the West Bank and opposes the Oslo Peace Accords
    Some surveys predicted the Jewish Home party, led by young and charismatic entrepreneur Naftali Bennett, will become the third largest faction in parliament. Bennett has said Israel should annex large portions of the West Bank, where the Palestinians hope to build their state.

    But Labor, Likud's traditional rival, was also projected to make gains in the voting.

    Negotiations to form the next Israeli government have already begun. Analysts say they are likely to be difficult.

    Voter concerns

    Liliane Brunswich, who immigrated to Israel 50 years ago, voted in the well-to-do German Colony neighborhood. She said security was her primary concern.

    "I want our government to protect Israel," she said.

    Jack Jamal said most Israelis want peace with their Palestinian neighbors but that it is not likely to happen because of the stalled peace talks.

    "The main issues I think have been domestic in this particular election," he said. "They're talking about social issues, economic issues, equality of opportunities, equality of obligations. These are the main issues."

    Recent immigrant Sylvia Sefor said social issues like education and health were important but the growing budget deficit was a big worry.

    "I am also very much concerned about debt," she said. "This country has been good in keeping the economy and budgets and I'm concerned that it shouldn't fall into more debt."

    Israel's budget deficit doubled last year to four percent of gross domestic project and was the main reason for the early elections.

    • Supporters of Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party celebrate at the party's headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 23, 2013.
    • Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party, gestures in front of supporters at his party's headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 23, 2013.
    • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to supporters as he stands at Likud party headquarters in Tel Aviv, January 23, 2013.
    • Head of the Jewish Home party Naftali Bennett arrives at his party's headquarters in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, after exit polls were announced, January 22, 2013.
    • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touches the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City after casting his ballot in Israel's parliamentary election January 22, 2013.
    • An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man stands near a booth at a polling station in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Kochav Ya'acov, north of Jerusalem, January 22, 2013.
    • A Druze woman casts her ballot for the parliamentary election at a polling station in the northern Druze-Arab village of Maghar, Israel, January 22, 2013.


    Economic worries

    In the predominantly Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa, Khalil Salman said that economic issues were important but he hoped the new government would do more for Israeli-Arabs who make up 20 percent of the population.

    Salman said the most important thing for the citizens is to obtain their rights, all their rights.

    Neighbor Masaab Tawil said he was not going to vote.

    "It will stay the same," Tawil said. "The right side will help only the Israeli people and care for them. The Israeli government will not look at us, the Palestinians."

    Haifa al-Ayan brought her two young children with her to the polls. She said she would ask Israel's next leader to think of the future.

    "I would ask him to think of children in both societies, first of all, and to raise education especially in the Arab society," she said.

    Preliminary unofficial results are expected after the polls close late Tuesday night. Official results are to be announced in one week.

    VOA's Michael Lipin contributed to this report.

     

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Dr. Holmes from: UK
    January 22, 2013 3:33 PM
    I hope that now it will be harder for Muslims to conquer by increased birth rates of Demographic Fifth Column in Israel... the way they are doing it in Europe...

    by: Ronnie Raygun
    January 22, 2013 11:40 AM
    Hitler got voted in as well.

    by: Meir Bryski from: Los Angeles
    January 22, 2013 9:55 AM
    Einstein said Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, while expecting different results. They continue behaviors for multiple millenia which are counter productive to their reception in the world. Was the song "When will they ever learn" written for them?

    by: Sandra from: UK
    January 22, 2013 9:40 AM
    Oooo NO...!!! Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah, Al Aqsa Brigades, child suicide murderers, see no prospects for peace...!!! well, now that the Israeli domestic composition is 40 percent Americans and 40 percent Russians.... with very little sentimentality threshold... the world is hoping that now the Israelis will give the Arabs ("Palestinians") something to cry about... and I hope the Muslim Brotherhood (Al Quaida) take note

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora