TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Thousands of people rallied in Tel Aviv on Sunday in support of Israel's hard-line, right-wing parties as Israel's prime minister entered a last-minute push to close a gap with his main challenger just days before the elections.
Latest polls have shown that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party trails the centrist Zionist Union by four seats. The numbers don't rule out Netanyahu's chances to form a government, but they have rattled his party, sending it into a get-out-the-vote blitz. Netanyahu has delivered a series of media interviews in recent days and decided, last minute, to speak at the Tel Aviv rally in a bid to shore up votes ahead of Tuesday's election.
"This is a fateful struggle, a close struggle. We must close this gap. We can close this gap," Netanyahu said to roaring applause.
Netanyahu, who boasted about his support for east Jerusalem settlement construction, called the potential for a government led by Zionist Union leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni "a real danger."
He also chided what he called funding "from abroad" of an activist group which has pushed for Netanyahu's ouster. The group, V15, is working with Jeremy Bird, one of President Barack Obama's former campaign strategists. Netanyahu, who has strong links to U.S. billionaire Sheldon Adelson, has attributed his drop in the polls to a "worldwide" conspiracy to oust him.
Participants at the rally, held in a central Tel Aviv square where dovish Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated and which bear's Rabin's name, held blue and white banners supporting Israel's myriad right-wing parties.
The rally comes eight days after thousands of supporters of centrist and left-wing parties held a similar demonstration in the same Tel Aviv square.
Also Sunday, Netanyahu's challenger Herzog stopped at Jerusalem's Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, where, as is customary, he inserted between its ancient stones a prayer written on a note.