Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Tuesday endorsed Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin as his replacement, and called on city residents to vote for him in the municipal elections later this year.
The support came via a video posted on Barkat’s Facebook page, styled as an old western movie with a duel between the participants, taking place, naturally, in one of the city’s many hummus joints.
The two politicians spar with competing success stories of the improvements they made to the city in their respective current positions — from education prizes to new hotels to the number of new startups in the capital.
Barkat concludes by saying that Elkin “fought for us in the government and is a real partner for the change that we made in Jerusalem.”
משלבים כוחות למען עתידה של ירושלים!השר לענייני ירושלים זאב אלקין Zeev Elkin נלחם בשבילנו בממשלה והיה שותף אמיתי יחד עם ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו למהפכה שעשינו בירושלים.רק אלקין ימשיך את ההצלחה של ירושלים.צפו ושתפו.
Posted by Nir Barkat – ניר ברקת on Tuesday, 19 June 2018
He gives his endorsement “as a Jerusalemite who loves the city with all his heart,” perhaps a reference to the controversy surrounding the fact that Elkin, along with the other leading candidate Deputy Mayor Moshe Lion, are not thought of as actual residents of the capital.
Elkin lived for many years in Jerusalem before relocating to the settlement of Kfar Eldad to its southeast, although he is looking to move back to the city. Lion relocated to Jerusalem a few years ago from the Tel Aviv suburb of Givatayim.
Barkat concludes the video with his full endorsement: “Only Elkin can carry on Jerusalem’s success.”
Barkat announced in March that he will not be seeking a third term and will instead run for Knesset on the Likud party ticket.
Elkin is close to the Haredi politicians who could get out for the vote in the city on October 30. He has also been a key figure in the increase of state funding for the cash-strapped capital as head of the Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry in recent years.
Lion has previously run as an independent candidate with backing from the local Likud party branch.
Two ultra-Orthodox city politicians have signaled their interest in running, hoping to capitalize on the 32 percent of the city’s population that identifies as Haredi — and whose voter share is even higher since the city’s Arab residents generally boycott the municipal vote.
Deputy Mayor Yossi Deitsch of the United Torah Judaism faction is seen as the leading Haredi candidate, alongside fellow party member Yitzhak Pindrus, also a deputy mayor.
Elkin is not the only MK looking to switch from the Knesset to Jerusalem city hall.
Zionist Union lawmaker Nachman Shai announced his candidacy in May. The opposition MK, who is a deputy Knesset speaker and former IDF spokesman, is moving his residency from the nearby Mevasseret Zion to Jerusalem in order to be eligible to run in the race.
Another possible candidate is Kulanu party MK Rachel Azaria, who served as deputy mayor before entering the Knesset in 2015.
There are also several candidates vying for the support of the younger generations, including 34-year-old Ofer Berkovitch, head of the Hitorerut faction, who enjoys the support of some of the city’s more liberal religious residents and is considered by many as a potential future mayor — even if not this time around.
Another contender, Yossi Havilio, a former municipal legal adviser turned Barkat critic, appeals mainly to the secular population.
Little-known Avi Salman has also announced he will run on a secular ticket.
Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.
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