Netanyahu plays J'lem card on campaign's final day

Prime minister holds press conference in Old City vowing a vote for him is a vote for "a united Jerusalem."

Netanyahu, Kahlon, Barkat in Jerusalem 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Netanyahu, Kahlon, Barkat in Jerusalem 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
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 Kahlon.
“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 Jerusalem.
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 “without precedent.”
Barkat, who is not a Likud member, endorsed Netanyahu.
“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.
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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.
The activists 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 Miri Regev.