Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu favored to retain job in election

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a country where coalition governments routinely collapse, the post of prime minister in Israel is not a position for someone seeking job security.

But Benjamin Netanyahu appeared ready to buck that trend and win a third term as Israelis voted Tuesday in parliamentary elections. Netanyahu's hawkish, right-wing coalition has held power for nearly four years, and the country's opinion polls showed his Likud party and potential coalition partners likely to win a majority of parliament's 120 seats.

Netanyahu, 63, has presided over a period when Israel's economy has held up relatively well, and many voters consider him best equipped to guide Israel at a time when there is widespread turbulence in the broader Middle East, including the neighboring countries of Egypt and Syria.

However, Netanyahu, who also served as prime minister from 1996 to 1999, has not made any significant progress in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while in office, and there is no prospect of any movement on the horizon.

The Israeli leader has also warned repeatedly that his country will not accept a nuclear-armed Iran, and that the day is looming when Israel may have to act unilaterally.

While that issue made international headlines much of last year, it was largely ignored by all parties and candidates during the campaign, which tended to focus on domestic concerns.

The polls close at 10 p.m. Israeli time (12 p.m. PST), and we will update this post as results become available.

Copyright 2013 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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