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(photo credit: AP)
Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu toured the Mount of Olives and the City of David on Monday afternoon, and promised to keep Jerusalem united, should he win next Tuesday's election.
Netanyahu's advisers said he came to the sites in the capital in order to bring attention to reports that his main rival, Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, had agreed to give up portions of the city in negotiations over the past 14 months with her Palestinian counterpart, Ahmed Qureia.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reportedly told US Middle East mediator George Mitchell last week that Livni had agreed to divide the city.
"We did not return to Jerusalem after praying for it to be rebuilt for 2000 years in order to give it up," Netanyahu told a throng of reporters from around the world at the City of David. "We did not unite the city in order to divide it, and my government will maintain a united Jerusalem. A sane country does not give its capital to its enemies."
Later on, Netanyahu visited a Jewish-owned home on the Mount of Olives that had been purchased from Arabs by organizations working to reclaim property in the city for Jews.
He then visited a lookout point over the the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives cemetery, where former Likud prime minister Menahem Begin is buried.
"The people buried here prayed that there would be a day when Jerusalem would be rebuilt," Netanyahu said. "The foreign press is here because they understand that this election is about whether our capital will be given to our enemies. The Likud and I are committed to maintaining a united Jerusalem with defensible borders. But for that, we need as large a Likud as possible, because only the Likud can maintain a united Jerusalem."
While Netanyahu was touring an archeological site in the City of David, Arabs heckled him from the rooftop of a nearby building. Local Arabs also expressed outrage at his visit near the Mouth of Olives.
"This is ours and not his," a local resident said.
But another Arab resident of the area said it was "no big deal" that Netanyahu was there, and that he was only upset at him for causing a traffic jam in his neighborhood.
Netanyahu was accompanied on the tour by a dozen Likud MKs and candidates.
Earlier Monday, former foreign minister Silvan Shalom canvassed for votes in the Old City of Jerusalem and in the Ramle-Lod market near the Jerusalem mall.
Shalom was received warmly in the market by an immigrant from Tunisia who said she would vote Likud to support Shalom, who was also born there. But when he asked an elderly gentleman to vote Likud, the man replied, "I haven't voted since 1959 and I'm not going to vote this time either."
Meanwhile, the head of the Meretz youth organization, Uri Zaki, was held for questioning by Netanyahu's bodyguards early Monday after he plastered stickers on garbage cans near Netanyahu's Jerusalem home bearing the slogan, "Garbage should not be recycled."