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Leading Israeli candidates in final campaign push

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Israel’s leading parliamentary election candidates were making last-ditch attempts to woo voters Monday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu placing the emphasis on security and his Zionist camp rivals urging voters not to disperse the centre-left vote.

Speaking a day before polls were due to open, Netanyahu appealed to hardliners by arguing that his nationalist Likud party would make “no concessions” to the Palestinians and would not uproot Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

“As long as the Likud remains in government… as long as the nationalist camp remains in government – we will not divide Jerusalem,” Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page as he headed for the East Jerusalem settlement of Har Homa.

Netanyahu’s main rival, opposition leader Isaac Herzog of the Labour Party, urged voters to end six years of Netanyahu rule. To make that possible the Zionist Camp – the centre-left list that he has formed with former justice minister Tzipi Livni – must emerge as the biggest faction in the Israeli parliament, he said.

Voting for any other centrist or left-wing party will “prevent the turnaround and keep Israel stuck with Bibi,” he argued.

In a bid for the religious vote, Herzog visited Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall, a Jewish sacred site, on Sunday.

According to the most recent opinion polls, the Zionist Camp is expected to win between 24 and 26 seats in the 120-member Knesset, compared to Likud’s 20-23.

Analysts say Moshe Kahlon, a former Likud minister who has formed his own centre-right party focusing on socio-economic issues, could emerge as kingmaker. Kahlon has so far refused to say whether he will join a coalition led by Netanyahu or Herzog.  SAPA

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