TEL AVIV (JTA) – Tens of thousands of right wing Israelis at a Tel Aviv rally heard Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vow not to withdraw from the West Bank.
The rally Sunday in Rabin Square, two days before Election Day, came one week after a 40,000-person rally in the same location advocated the right wing’s defeat. Much of the crowd on Sunday appeared to be religious Zionist.
Polls last week – the last ones before the balloting – showed Netanyahu’s right wing Likud Party trailing the centre-left Zionist Union.
Along with his vow on the West Bank, Netanyahu claimed that the Zionist Union’s co-chairs, Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, intended to cede eastern Jerusalem to Palestinian control.
He called for the crowd to increase right wing turnout on Election Day to ensure that the right wing parties stay in power. He also called on Moshe Kahlon, the former Likud minister who now heads the centre-right Kulanu party, to endorse him for prime minister.
“This effort revolves around one message: Anyone but Bibi,” he said, referring to efforts to unseat him. “Ask yourselves, why are they doing this? Because they know that as long as I’m prime minister and Likud is in government, the nationalist camp is in government. And as long as the nationalist camp is in government, we won’t divide Jerusalem, there won’t be concessions, there won’t be retreats.”
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, chair of the religious Zionist Jewish Home party, also addressed the rally, singing the beginning of the song “Jerusalem of Gold” with the crowd. Eli Yishai, who heads the far-right Yachad party, spoke following Bennett.