TEL AVIV – An oversized billboard of President Donald Trump shaking hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was visible on Sunday from Tel Aviv’s main highway as part of the prime minister’s reelection campaign.
A similar giant poster also hangs at the entrance to Jerusalem.
The billboard reads, “Netanyahu. In a different league,” with the ruling party’s name “Likud” printed at the bottom.
— Gil Hoffman (@Gil_Hoffman) February 3, 2019
Netanyahu is riding on Trump’s popularity in Israel, largely the result of his administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the country’s capital and the subsequent transfer of the U.S. embassy there.
According to public opinion polls, Netanyahu is viewed as the likely winner of the April 9 elections, but a close challenger is former IDF chief-of-staff Benny Gantz.
Netanyahu uses Trump in election campaign poster https://t.co/93Y1PYeELg
— The Times of Israel (@TimesofIsrael) February 3, 2019
An alliance between Gantz’s newly formed Israel Resilience party and the centrist Yesh Atid with Gantz at the helm would gain 35 seats — five more than Likud, a poll by Channel 12 showed. However, Lapid has so far resisted joining forces.
Likud is gearing up for primaries later this week, with 73 candidates vying for top slots on the electoral list.
Netanyahu denied a report by Israel Hayom that he had manufactured an endorsement “hit list” of preferred candidates.
“My endorsement list includes all incumbent Likud lawmakers. That is why I made sure to increase the number of spots up for grabs in the nation-wide primary,” Netanyahu said. “I have full faith that Likud members will choose the best people from the great crop of candidates.”
The list was reportedly topped by Amir Ohana, the Likud’s first openly gay Knesset member and one of the chief architects behind the controversial nation-state law.