Against a backdrop of the walls of Jerusalem's Old City, captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a recent photo opportunity with foreign ambassadors to send a message meant to be heard at home, as well as abroad.
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"Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years," he said. "All Israeli governments have built in Jerusalem. We're not going to change that. That's a natural thing. I want to ask any of you to imagine that you would limit construction in your own capital. It doesn't make sense."
Netanyahu was responding to international condemnation of Israeli plans for settlement building on contested West Bank land annexed to Jerusalem, but his words also seemed calculated to resonate with Israeli voters ahead of elections on Jan. 22.
The strategy seems to be working with a public disillusioned by the stalemate in peace efforts with the Palestinians, worried about the ascendancy of Islamist forces brought by the Arab Spring and troubled by the possibility of a nuclear Iran. With no appealing challenger, Netanyahu appears to be the default choice of many Israelis.
Less than a month before the vote, Netanyahu holds a commanding lead in public opinion polls at the head of a joint ticket of his right-leaning Likud party and the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu faction of former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post