Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a surprise visit Monday to the Mahaneh Yehuda market in Jerusalem, where he was greeted warmly by vendors.
For security reasons Netanyahu’s office had not informed the press of the visit. He was surrounded in the market by some 20 security guards.
How politicians are received at the market is considered a bellwether of their support on the Right. Other politicians who have received warm receptions lately in the market include Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon and Yahad chairman Eli Yishai.
Netanyahu said after the visit that he remembers the market from his childhood, and that since then it has endured terrible terrorist attacks.
“I am happy that our tough policies maintain the security of Jerusalem and bring prosperity to the market,” Netanyahu said.
“It warms my heart to see how the market attracts people from all over the country.”
The prime minister condemned Zionist Union co-leader Tzipi Livni for criticizing building in Jerusalem.
“Unlike Tzipi Livni, who condemns our building in Jerusalem, and unlike [Zionist Union co-leader Isaac] Herzog, who will allow the establishment of a second terrorist state in Judea and Samaria, we will preserve a secure and united Jerusalem forever,” he said.
Netanyahu’s political opponents questioned why he did not invite the press to the tour.
They questioned whether the prime minister was afraid of getting heckled in the market.
But Likud MK Miri Regev, who accompanied Netanyahu to the market, said he was received so warmly that she has no doubt that he will remain prime minister after the election.
Netanyahu stopped at a coffee shop in the market and purchased espresso. When he paid with a NIS 100 bill, the woman behind the counter, Anat Lesem, paid him back with 87 coins as a protest against his economic policies, which she said harmed small businesses.
The last time Netanyahu visited the shuk was in his 2009 campaign for prime minister.