MAALE ADUMIM, West Bank — From the deck of a new cafe at the edge of this sprawling Jewish settlement, customers gaze out at a large patch of desert that is the latest point of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
People here, and in the Israeli leadership, hope that the land will soon become an unbroken chain of roads and homes linking their community to Jerusalem. But Palestinians — along with much of the world — see it as a critical part of their future state.
Yet a few days before the Israeli national elections on Tuesday, many of the settlers here said the existential question of what would happen in the West Bank was not their top concern. In this campaign, voters here and elsewhere said, the issues that have been staples of Israeli politics for generations have been largely invisible, and social values or pocketbook concerns have been front and center.
If there is a consensus among voters and analysts, it is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to win another term — despite a gaping deficit, a stalemated peace process, a political partner indicted on fraud charges and a war with Gaza that met mixed reviews.
The headlines from Israel’s 2013 campaign have been about the failure of a fragmented center and left to field a credible challenger to Netanyahu, and the emergence of an emboldened national-religious party with a hard-line position on the Palestinian conflict.