The stability of Jerusalem’s municipal leadership was called into question Monday night after the local Hitorerut (Wake-Up Jerusalem) Party announced it was quitting the city’s ruling coalition.
The departure of the party — composed of secular and national-religious members — left Mayor Nir Barkat with a coalition overwhelmingly comprising ultra-Orthodox members.
The party also announced that its leader, Ofer Berkovich, who had served as deputy to Barkat, will run for mayor in late 2018.
Hitorerut said it was leaving the coalition over a deal earlier this year between Barkat and ultra-Orthodox leaders that they say will cement and make official the divide between ultra-Orthodox and other communities in some of the capital’s neighborhoods — through regulations and funding.
Party leaders said their opposition to the deal had led to punitive measures by the mayor. They also accused Barkat of putting his own interests above the city’s.
“Lately Jerusalem has been sacrificed on the altar of Barkat’s political aspirations,” Berkovich said. “Jerusalem has become Barkat’s political stage on the way to a career on the national stage. Anything that cannot be used for political gain is neglected. What can be — is sold off.”
The municipality in response accused Hitorerut of politicking and electioneering of their own and of “betraying” Jerusalem residents.
“The mayor and city leadership will continue their work on the revolution Jerusalem is undergoing in recent years as a growing, open and tolerant city.”