MAALE ADUMIM, West Bank -- From the deck of a swanky 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 in Maale Adumim, 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 Tuesday, many of the Maale Adumim settlers said the existential question of what would happen in the West Bank was not their top concern. In this campaign, voters in this settlement 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.
"Sometimes you have to know there is no solution right now, put that aside and think of other things," said Shlomo Cohen, 46, a landscaper who wears the signature knitted skullcap of the so-called national-religious sector.
If there is a consensus among voters and analysts alike of what by most accounts has been a moribund campaign, it is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to win another term -- despite a gaping deficit, despite a stalemated peace process, despite having a political partner indicted on fraud charges and even though he waged a war with Gaza to 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 Mr. Netanyahu, and the emergence of an emboldened national-religious party with a hard-line position on the Palestinian conflict.
As the Middle East's most stable democracy turns inward, experts say a growing majority of Israelis have given up on the land-for-peace paradigm that has defined the debate for decades, cementing the country's shift to the right in politics, policy and public discourse. That promises to complicate Mr. Netanyahu's already strained relations with President Barack Obama, as Israel faces international condemnation for its continued expansion of settlements in the West Bank.
"Israeli society today is in despair," said Yossi Klein Halevi, a journalist and senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. "And despair is a dangerous political place, because despair can yield extreme temptations."
It has been the least competitive election in memory, and the least substantive; one columnist wrote Sunday that "an indifferent and yawning Israel" was heading to the polls.
Each party seems to be on a different playing field, in terms of priorities, as Mr. Netanyahu's dominant Likud-Beiteinu faction has campaigned neither on issues nor accomplishments, failing to even produce a formal platform, but on the simple theme of strength. Experts say there is an unusually high percentage of undecided voters in the campaign's final days.
An average of the public polls published Thursday and Friday suggests that candidates from Likud-Beiteinu will win 35 of Parliament's 120 seats, down from its current 42. The next largest party looks like left-leaning Labor, with average 16 seats, followed by 14 for the new Jewish Home party, whose charismatic leader and hawkish stance on the Palestinians have been the most dynamic aspects of the campaign.
Perhaps more important, the bloc of right-wing and religious parties is expected to total 62-71 seats, according to the polls, leaving Mr. Netanyahu in a strong position to form the next government, though it remains unclear whether he will reach out to the center or stick with staunch conservatives.