Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu won the hyperclose 1996 general election
riding on a campaign warning that his opponent, then-Labor Party leader Shimon
Peres, would divide Jerusalem if elected.
Seventeen years later, with a
race much less close, Netanyahu played the Jerusalem card again on the eve of
Tuesday’s election. With the Old City walls in the background, the prime
minister held a press conference at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center,
accompanied by Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat and popular minister Moshe
“When you vote for a large ruling party, you vote for a united
Jerusalem, a strong economy, and for the power to lower the cost of housing,”
Netanyahu said at the press conference. “We are committed to safeguarding
It is my city. We are resisting international pressure, and we
will never divide it.”
Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat also joined Netanyahu
and thanked the prime minister for his support of Jerusalem, which he said was
Barkat, who is not a Likud member, endorsed
“I support you and I know that in the next term you will
continue to lead brilliantly and guard Jerusalem as a united city against all
the international pressure,” Barkat said.
Likud activists unveiled large
banners on the Old City walls on Sunday bearing slogans that promised that only
Netanyahu could safeguard Jerusalem and warned that Israel could end up
returning to the pre-1967 borders if he is not reelected.
sang Hatikva and Jerusalem of Gold, but then removed the banners within 10
minutes on orders from police.
In an effort to win lastminute support,
Likud and Yisrael Beytenu ministers and MKs went door to door campaigning in
Rishon Lezion Monday.
The politicians who participated in the effort
included Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and MK