Points of Views
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0202 – Points of View from Jerusalem

Special Digest: Jerusalem Municipality Elections

“16 years ago, I left all my businesses and devoted myself, ‘for a shekel a year’, to saving Jerusalem – the city where I grew up and where I established my family.

After working for a decade with many partners, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, we have reached a historic turning point. We brought Jerusalem back to growth with the largest budget in the history of the city.

Now that Jerusalem is on the right track, I will not run for a third term as mayor. At the end of my term I will leave the municipality, but I will never leave Jerusalem.

Now, I have decided to serve the State of Israel on a national level and to strengthen the Likud [1] movement which I believe in with all my heart. I intend to seek the support of its members in the upcoming [national] elections.

In every role that the public will give me, I will continue to serve ‘for a shekel a year’ and will combine my experience and skills as an officer in the paratroopers, as a high-tech entrepreneur, and as the leader of the most fascinating and complex city to manage – for you, citizens of Israel.”

– Nir Barkat [2]

“Those who know me, know that I am not your average employee. I find it difficult to accept orders and stay in the same place for a long time.

In 2015 after two fascinating years in which I worked under Ofer Berkowitz [3] on exciting developments for Jerusalem, I felt that I was exhausted and needed to leave my position. I informed Ofer that I was leaving the job and started a new path.

Just then, after two years of slander and bitter rivalry between Nir Barkat and Moshe Leon[4], the ‘man from Givatayim’, the two announced their unification. Moshe Leon went from being a bitter rival, to a senior partner in Barkat's coalition. Meir Turgeman [5] received the planning and building directorate that would later complicate things for him, and Nir Barkat was strengthened in the national campaign.

At that moment I called Ofer and said, ‘I know I told you I'm resigning, but these recent events do not leave a lot of choices here, I will stay in the office…You have to be the mayor in 2018, it's you or Moshe Leon. I ask you to trust me to establish and manage your election headquarters. I believe in you and I believe that we will succeed.’

The truth is at first, I was one of the lone lunatics in town. People thought we were delirious and arrogant. But today, in light of Barkat's expected departure and after more than two years of intensive work, we are here. This is the reality, it's Ofer Berkowitz or Moshe Leon.

In October 2018, Jerusalem will choose between a creative, young mayor with a record of activity in Jerusalem, a Jerusalemite…and Moshe Leon. Leon is not from this city, he comes from Lieberman's school of politics [6], he is not committed to the Zionist public in the city, and he is mainly known as a 'nice man.'

This is a great journey, it is another battle for the city, and we can succeed, but only together. We can only succeed if the entire Zionist public is united and will join hands and march together.
‘Hitorerut’ is a movement of volunteers that grew out of the field and is active in the field. I write this post to invite all of you to join us on this exciting journey. We have another seven months to conquer the mountain and achieve victory.”
– Tomer Dror


"Barkat announced: I will not run again in Jerusalem; the Haredim are preparing.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat says he will not run for a third term as mayor but will run for a Knesset slot in the Likud party. [Haredi councillor] Pindrus [7]: Jerusalem needs courageous, attentive and determined leadership.

Council members in Jerusalem accepted Barkat's decision with mixed feelings. The secular parties are preparing to torpedo an appointment of a Haredi mayor and are working to unite around a candidate for mayor. In a conversation with 'Kikar Hashabat', several secular council members in the city expressed "concern" that a Haredi mayor would break the status quo in the city. On the other hand, the Haredi groups in the city council are closely monitoring the developments.

Members of the ultra-Orthodox factions aspire to appoint a Haredi mayor, but they say that the need to unite the Haredi public, all its sects and branches, will be unbearable. 'If Barkat goes home, the great Rabbis of Israel and the Councils of Torah Sages [8] will determine the identity of the candidate. This will not happen in the next two months', one of the municipality's members told us."

-Kikar Hashabat

"Will Haredim support city councillor Moshe Leon? Leon: I'll run for mayor.

Following Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat's official announcement that he will not run in the upcoming municipal elections, city councillor and community portfolio holder, Moshe Leon, officially announced on Sunday that he will run in the upcoming mayor elections. Will the Haredim support him or Haredi deputy mayor Yossi Deitch [9]?"

-Behadrei Haredim

"The race opens: Pindrus will run for mayor?

Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Yitzhak Pindrus sent a message to the media, in which he congratulated Barkat, and in which he inserted clear hints about his future plans. Pindrus said, ‘Jerusalem needs a courageous, attentive and determined leadership. A leadership that will be concerned with the hardships and challenges facing city residents and that come up on my desk every day’.

Pindrus's announcement reinforces the feeling among many in the city that he is seriously considering running for mayor in the upcoming elections. It seems that Deputy Mayor Yossi Deitch, a member of Shlomi Emunim, will be running for mayor as well. It is possible that soon we will see an internal Haredi battle between the two deputies aiming for the senior position."

-Behadrei Haredim

0202 Editor's Notes:
[1] The ‘Likud’ is a right-wing political party and is currently the largest party in parliament led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
[2] Nir Barkat is the two-term mayor of Jerusalem and is scheduled to complete his second term at the end of this year. A secular Jerusalemite, Barkat was a significant change for the city following his predecessor, the Haredi Mayor, Uri Lopliansky. He is currently a member of the Likud, a party on the center-right of the Israeli political spectrum. His somewhat expected announcement to move into national politics is considered to be the unofficial opening shot for the municipal race.
[3] Hit'orerut is a local party headed by Ofer Berkowitz. Their voter constituency is primarily the younger population and secular Jerusalemites. They promote a pluralistic agenda.
[4] In 2013, Moshe Leon ran for mayor of Jerusalem but lost to incumbent mayor Nir Barkat. In August 2015, Leon joined the municipal coalition and the faction of Mayor Nir Barkat. As part of the coalition agreement signed between the two, he began to serve as a member of the city administration and as the holder of the community management portfolio.
[5] Meir Turgeman Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem was arrested on grounds of corruption, money laundering and abuse of power.
[6] Avigdor Lieberman serves as the Defence Minister of Israel. His politics in and outside of Israel is often labelled as ‘nationalistic’ and ‘right-wing’.
[7] Yitzchak Pindrus is a city council member of the Haredi “Degel Hatorah” party. He currently holds the position of deputy mayor.
[8] Each Haredi political party has a council of leading Rabbis that directs the party's actions and appoints party leaders.
[9] Yossi Deitch is a Haredi politician from the Haredi ‘sub-party’ “Shlomei Emunim” which is part of the national Haredi party “Agudat Yisrael”. The ‘sub-party’ was set up to run party representatives for local elections across the country.

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