(NBC NEWS) TEL AVIV, Israel — Voters waited in line for over an hour in some places Tuesday amid unusually high turnout in a parliamentary election pitching Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against centrist rivals including Isaac Herzog.
More than one quarter of eligible citizens had cast their ballot by midday local time (6 a.m. ET), according to Israel news site Ynet, which said turnout was so far at its highest since 1999.
The vote is being seen as a referendum of sorts for Netanyahu, whose focus on security has strained relations with the U.S. The high turnout also could be partially driven by a deal between Arab parties that could indirectly benefit the center-left Zionist Union alliance led by Herzog.
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