Mayor Nir Barkat officially announced that he will not run for a third term as mayor on Sunday. The announcement was made during a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Barkat also declared that he intends to run for a spot on the Likud list. The announcement confirms reports from last week.
Barkat said “Sixteen years ago, I left my business and set out to save Jerusalem, the city in which I grew up and raised my family, in exchange for a shekel a year. Over a decade, together with many partners headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, we brought Jerusalem back to growth with the largest budget in the history of the city. The success of a united Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people, is the success of the State of Israel and now I have decided to serve the State on the national level. I want to strengthen the Likud movement in which I believe and I intend to ask for the support of its members in the upcoming elections. ”
“My father always hoped that me and my brothers we would serve the State of Israel without the need to ask for anything in exchange. I will continue to work for a shekel a year in any task that the public bestows upon me. I will use my experience as an officer in the paratroopers and as a high-tech entrepreneur to do so.”
With Barkat leaving the race and Meir Turjeman’s legal troubles likely forcing him to drop out, two frontrunners remain. Moshe Lion, who is expected to officially announce his candidacy next week, ran for mayor in the previous election. He has support from ultra-Orthodox circles and held the coveted Community Center Portfolio giving him a familiarity with voters from around the city.
Opposing him would be Head of the Opposition Ofer Berkovitch who leads Hitorerut. Hitorerut controlled the Culture and Business portfolios while they remained in the coalition and maintain support in many of Jerusalem’s Zionist neighborhoods. The party should expect to gain voters from both Barkat’s and Turjeman’s camps.
Deputy Mayor Yossi Deutsch is also said to be thinking about running from the United Torah Judaism party, which could give him much of the ultra-Orthodox vote. Dudi Amsallem, the current head of the coalition in the Knesset, is also considering a run.
(Header Photo Courtesy Facebook)