Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov issued last-minute personal pleas, urging the public to cast their votes for the Dead Sea in the New 7 Wonders of Nature contest, which concludes Friday, 11/11/11, at 1:11 p.m. Israel time.

The Dead Sea, representing Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, currently ranks among the top 10 of the 28 contestants still remaining in the competition, sponsored by the New7Wonders Foundation.

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Stressing the importance of a Dead Sea win to Israeli tourism, the government has poured millions of shekels and led a wide-scale public relations campaign toward securing the win since the spring. According to the contest website and a tweet from the Tourism Ministry, votes for the Dead Sea have “accelerated” in the past day.

In his own words of outreach, the prime minister emphasized that winning the competition would help further development of the region.

“Winning will transform the Dead Sea into one of the leading tourist sites in the world and will contribute greatly not only to us, but also to other countries in the region, and will increase regional cooperation,” Netanyahu said.

Meseznikov implored citizens to contribute to this “national effort” in the last two days of the contest.

“We believe in victory and strive for it,” Meseznikov said. “The meaning of a win for the Dead Sea in the competition is the addition of hundreds of thousands of new tourists, which will bring about the creation of thousands of new jobs, contribute tens of millions of shekels to the state treasury and contribute to the creation of a positive image for the state as an attractive tourist destination.”

In the two days that remain, a national effort is required for the last-minute encouragement of friends, relatives and acquaintances in Israel and abroad to vote for the Dead Sea and bring it the coveted title, he said.

In addition to government figures across the political spectrum, the competition has gained the support of many Israeli artists, such as singer Laila Malcos, photographer Elhanan Yair and fashion designer Osnat Subah, as well as American naked installation giant Spencer Tunick. And on Wednesday afternoon, the salty sea also gained the public backing of Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli.

At about 2 p.m., Refaeli tweeted: “Have you voted already for the Dead Sea? Competition for New 7 Wonders of World is concluding in two days!!!!! Text ‘Dead Sea’ to the number 2244.”

Until the contest’s conclusion, voters can – as Refaeli mentioned – send SMS messages casting their ballots for the Dead Sea by texting the words “Dead Sea” in English, Hebrew or Arabic to the number 2244, or by www.new7wonders.com or www.votedeadsea.com.

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