Aryeh Deri, jailed for bribery in 2000, tries for a comeback in the Jerusalem mayoral contest as Israel reels from several high-profile political scandals.
French President Sarkozy, in Damascus this week, was also thought to be seeking Syria's help in dealing with Iran's nuclear program.
The latest stops in his Mideast tour included the rocket-besieged Israeli town of Sderot and the West Bank town of Ramallah.
On his second trip to Israel, President Bush will address the issue of settlement building and try to push for progress on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The former president arrived in Israel Sunday as Palestinians in Gaza continued to cope with an Israeli-imposed fuel blockade.
In an interview, key Hamas strategist Mahmoud Zahar discusses how his movement has been preparing for a potentially imminent Israeli assault on Gaza.
In Jerusalem Wednesday, the president called for two democracies, Israel and Palestine, to live side by side.