Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief rival in Tuesday’s election, Benny Gantz of the Blue and White Party, prayed separately at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Monday night as their election campaigns came to a close.
“Every time I come here I feel moved, to touch these stones, to see the ancient origins of the people of Israel which give us strength,” Netanyahu said in a live Facebook video. “I pray here for the people of Israel, for the State of Israel, for the eternal Israel.”
Gantz on his Facebook page wrote: “This evening, at the Western Wall. And in my heart, like always, a single prayer: for peace upon us and for peace within us.”
Gantz’s centrist party is the main rival to Netanyahu’s Likud faction and Gantz is the only candidate who could realistically unseat the premier.
מתפלל בכותל המערבי להצלחת עם ישראל.
The solemn close to the campaign follows a bitter election season that saw the two candidates sniping at each other until its final hours.
The polls are set to open at 7:00 a.m. for Israel’s second national vote in five months.
After April’s national vote, Netanyahu, who in July became Israel’s longest serving prime minister, suffered a major defeat when his Likud party along with its right-wing and religious allies won a majority, but he failed to form a coalition.
Rather than risk allowing another candidate to have a shot at doing so, he opted for a second election and is now again locked in a tough race against Gantz’s Blue and White centrist alliance.
Surveys have shown Blue and White neck and neck or slightly ahead of Likud, but with Netanyahu edging toward being able to muster a majority coalition of right-wing parties and retain his office.