JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu headed to a settlement neighbourhood of annexed east Jerusalem Monday wrapping up his reelection campaign with the claim that only he would keep the city united.
The rightwing incumbent has repeatedly accused his centre-left challengers Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni of being ready to abandon Israel's claim to Jerusalem as its indivisible capital in peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
"The important thing is to keep a unified Jerusalem," he told Channel 2 news on the final day of campaigning for Tuesday's election.
Netanyahu was to head to Har Homa, a particularly controversial settlement neighbourhood on Jerusalem's southern outskirts where building began in 1997 during his first term as premier.
Construction at the site, which lies between Arab neighbourhoods of east Jerusalem and the southern West Bank, prompted the Palestinians to break off peace talks in protest at the threat to the viability of their promised state.
Israel occupied Arab east Jerusalem with the rest of the West Bank in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community. The Palestinians claim it as the capital of their future state.
Over the past two years, Netanyahu repeatedly defied international condemnation, including from Washington, to expand Jewish settlement neighbourhoods of the city, something that he accused his challengers of opposing.
"They are ready to give up, to bow their heads to any dictate, including to a nuclear deal with Iran," he told Walla news website in an interview published on Monday.
Herzog, whose Zionist Union bloc had a four-seat lead over Netanyahu's Likud party in the final opinion polls of the campaign, has rejected the rightwinger's claims that he would be weak on Jerusalem.
Visiting the Western Wall, the holiest site at which Jews can pray, on Sunday, Herzog pledged to "safeguard Jerusalem and its residents in actions, not just words, more than any other leader."