JERUSALEM, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Israelis trickled into the polls Tuesday morning in the country's early parliamentary elections, with opinion polls predicting an easy win for a right-wing union led by incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Voting started at 7 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) Tuesday at 10,132 polling stations across the country, and is due to end at 10 p.m. According to the Central Election Committee, there are more than 5.66 million Israeli citizens eligible to vote.
Accompanied by wife Sara and two sons, Netanyahu cast his vote at a polling station near his residence in Jerusalem's Rehavia neighborhood.
"This is the first family vote. Whoever wants Israel to succeed should vote for one big party," Netanyahu said after voting. "It's not a rainy day, but we hope it will rain Likud ballots."
A new immigrant, Lavi, who only gave part of his name, told Xinhua he voted for Netanyahu's Likud party. "He (Netanyahu) is strong and I believe he can cope with things like the economy."
At one polling station in Jerusalem, where dozens of voters were going in and out, Rachel and Moshe Cohen told Xinhua: "It is important to vote today, and give strength to the correct candidates. We won't feel good with ourselves if we give up our right to vote."
Harel Yochanan, a 24-year-old man, was standing outside and waiting: "I'm still not sure who to vote for. My dilemma is between a large and powerful party and a new party that might make a greater difference."
The elections, originally set for October this year, were moved forward due to a failure of parties in the Knesset to agree on a new budget.
A total of 32 parties are running for the 120 seats in the one-chamber parliament, the Knesset. The Likud-Beitenu union led by Netanyahu and former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman is expected to get around 32 seats, making it the largest bloc in the new parliament, according to final opinion polls published at the weekend.
The same polls also predicted 17 seats for the Labor Party, 13 to 15 for the far-right Habayit Hayeudi (The Jewish Home) party, 12 for the centrist Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party and only seven for Tzipi Livni's center-left Hatnua (The Movement) party.
A majority of more than 65 seats is predicted for the right-wing bloc.
More than 20,000 policemen, border guards and police volunteers would be deployed to polling stations, national police spokesperson Mickey Rosenfeld told Xinhua on Monday.
"The policemen are set to ensure that the public would be able to vote without anything compromising that right," he said.
Voter turnout in the 2009 elections stood at 65.2 percent and analysts are expecting it to be at least that high again this time.
However, less than 50 percent of Israeli Arabs, who constitute 20 percent of the country's population, are planning to vote, according to a recent survey published by the Ha'aretz daily. The Arab League has called on Israeli Arabs to vote to change the makeup of the Knesset.
The state has up to 14 days to count the votes and determine the results officially. During this period, parties will be locked in talks aimed at forging possible coalitions.
The politician with the highest chance of putting together a coalition, apparently Netanyahu, will be appointed prime minister by President Shimon Peres.
JERUSALEM, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Israelis went to the polls Tuesday morning in a parliamentary election, which opinion polls have predicted will be easily won by incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud-Beitenu union.
The following are some key facts and procedures for the elections: Full story
JERUSALEM, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Israel's 5.6 million eligible voters began to cast their ballots Tuesday for the general elections while recent polls show a landslide victory for incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud, which are running on a joint slate with the nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party.
Thirty-two veteran and new lists are competing in the elections of the 120-member Knesset parliament, whose seats are allocated by proportional representation with a qualifying threshold of 2 percent. Full story