In a mixed Jerusalem neighborhood, residents brave rainstorm to vote on city’s future

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

Rachel Nasco outside a Jerusalem polling station, February 27, 2024. (Jeremy Sharon/Times of Israel)
Rachel Nasco outside a Jerusalem polling station, February 27, 2024. (Jeremy Sharon/Times of Israel)

Although some voters at a polling station in the mixed Jerusalem neighborhood of Katamonim brave the hail and rain to vote in the municipal elections, the adverse weather conditions may further depress already low turnout in the capital.

Iris Ben Tzvi, who has lived in Katamonim, for 30 years says she voted for Yosi Havilio for mayor and his Jerusalem Union party for the city council because “his platform spoke to me,” but also because she is concerned that the ultra-Orthodox parties will gain a majority on the council.

She worries that the scale of the current war and the tragedies it has wrought have made people apathetic about local politics, and expresses concern that large numbers of soldiers currently away from home will not vote and that the rain will also reduce turnout among the non-Haredi community.

“I’m a secular woman… If there is a Haredi majority on the city council there will be less funding for the secular community, and women’s rights will be at risk,” says Ben Tzvi.

Rachel Nasco, another long-time resident of Katamonim, is far more sanguine about ultra-Orthodox dominance of the city council.

“Why shouldn’t they have a majority,” she says, although she herself is not Haredi. “Why shouldn’t we have more tradition? I’m very traditional, I think it’s very important for the country that we have that.”

Nasco voted for the incumbent mayor Moshe Lion and Likud for the city council, though she acknowledged that Likud’s political fortunes have “declined a bit” nationally.

“Voting for Likud is in my blood, it’s something I’ve always done. Having a Likud representative on the council is important to me,” she says.

Nasco is full of praise for Lion, who has formed a strong alliance with the ultra-Orthodox parties, saying “I saw a great improvement, on the roads. with the light rail, on the sidewalks, and in terms of refuse collection.”

Most Popular