Moshe Lion was elected mayor of Jerusalem on Tuesday after a dramatic overthrow that saw him follow the secular challenge Ofer Berkovich all night long up to 10 percent before his late increase saw to proclaim the winner with about 6,000 votes or 3% after 1 am.
The Lion, 57, replaces outgoing Mayor Nir Barkat, who spent two terms at the helm, starting in 2008.
"I will be the mayor of all the citizens of Jerusalem," said Lion in the morning hours at a banquet hall in the Talpiot industrial zone in his first speech as a mayor. "Those who chose me and those who did not, it is time to act, we are facing challenges in this stunning city."
The Lion is a former general manager of the Prime Minister's office, Israeli president and head of the Jerusalem Development Authority and a member of the Jerusalem City Council. This is the second time he ran in the municipal elections in Jerusalem after the loss of Baghdad in 2013.
Berkovic, an independent candidate who founded the Awakening movement in Jerusalem, said his legal advisers would look at irregularities in the vote. The votes of soldiers and prisoners have not yet been calculated.
Lion was elected in the last struggle by the secular and ethnic religious communities who supported Berkovic in an attempt to keep the Holy City away from the super-Orthodox.
Agudat Yisrael's Magisterial Council decided not to support any of the candidates, but Shas and the United Democratic Party of the Jewish Tor Degal Hatorah supported the Lion, paving the way for his victory. The Lion also enjoyed the support of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.
The secular and exceptionally orthodox citizens of Jerusalem have been struggling for years to influence the city's religion, leading to cultural battles for entertainment venues opening on Saturday, opening new secular schools and kindergartens and gay pride in the city center.
The population of 850,000 Jerusalem inhabitants includes about 200,000 Israeli Israeli Israelis, 350,000 Jewish super-Orthodox Jews, and 300,000 Palestinians who overwhelmingly boycott the Israeli elections.
The first round of municipal elections on 30 October initially comprised five candidates, including Zehnik Elkin, currently the government for environmental protection and the Jerusalem Affairs Minister, who lost despite the Prime Minister's support Netanyahu. Elkin won 19.8% of the votes, while Moshe Lion won 33.3% of the votes, Nab Berkovitch 28.8% of the votes, Yossi Daitch, the candidate Ashkenazi Haredi, 17.2% of the votes and former counselor Barkat Avi Salman 0.8% of the vote. The municipalities, where no candidate gained more than 40 percent of the votes in the first round, went to a second round of voting.
In addition to Jerusalem, 55 municipalities and nearly two million people went to a second round Tuesday night. In Ramat Gan, incumbent mayor Israel Zinger was defeated by former Likud MK Carmel Shama Cohen. In Rishon Lezion, the fourth largest city in Israel, incumbent mayor Dov Tzur lost to Raz Kinestalich and Gush Etzion, chief council Shlomo Neumann won at Moshe Seville.