Netanyahu, Trump smile Israelis on giant election poster

Jerusalem (AFP) – A giant billboard in Tel Aviv features Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump smiling and shaking hands as the Israeli prime minister launches his campaign ahead of the April elections.

The 20-by-10-meter ad – with the slogan “Netanyahu, in another league” in Hebrew – is pasted above a busy intersection, and the poster has been placed elsewhere in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and in other cities.

Billboard photos are all the rage on social media.

The Israeli prime minister has forged a solid relationship with Trump, whose administration in December 2017 recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Netanyahu has repeatedly pointed to the move as proof of his ability to influence the US president.

The US decision has delighted Israel, which considers the entire city as its “eternal and indivisible capital”.

But it was condemned by the international community, which never recognized the 1967 occupation by the Jewish state and later the annexation of Arab East Jerusalem.

The unilateral recognition has enraged the Palestinians, who see East Jerusalem as the capital of their own future state.

The United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. At least 62 Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli fire during protests along the Gaza border that day.

Opinion polls show that Netanyahu – who has been in power for nearly a decade – is well placed to form another coalition government after parliamentary elections slated for April 9.

But the veteran prime minister faces potential corruption charges, with media suggesting the attorney general may initiate legal action ahead of the April vote.

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