Thursday , July 29 2021

Moshe Leon, a candidate backed by super-Orthodox, was elected mayor of Jerusalem

A candidate backed by ultra-orthodox Jewish groups has been elected mayor of Jerusalem with a narrow margin, an official said on Thursday after a municipal election.

Moshe Leon, who is campaigning with fears for secularization of the Holy City, garnered less than 51 per cent of his votes on his retirement on Tuesday, with Omar Berkovic's secularist opponent receiving more than 49 per cent.

The final results, which were confirmed by the interior ministry spokesman, were delayed, while the votes of more than 9,000 soldiers, policemen, disabled and prisoners were counted and added to the main venture.

Leon, who, like Berkovic, was a member of the city council, had the support of some super-Orthodox factions, including the Shas party, led by Interior Minister Ari Dirry.

It was also supported by Avigdor Lieberman, who resigned as Defense Minister on Wednesday for a controversial ceasefire in Gaza.

Leon, an accountant with a rich experience in the public sector, is a religious nationalist, not a super-Orthodox.

Photo AP / Oded Balilty

The 56-year-old was head of the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1997.

Derry had invoked the devil on the path of the campaign.

"All the support of our rabbi (Leon) against a secular candidate who wants to continue the secularization of Jerusalem and turn our Holy City into a normal city," Derry told fans on Saturday night's video.

"Satan is carrying out an extraordinary recruitment effort and has called all his forces."

Speaking early on Wednesday after the main report was published, Leon stressed that he would work towards unity.

"Jerusalem chose unity," he said. "I intend, God willing, to be the mayor of all the inhabitants of Jerusalem."

Berkovic has so far refused to accept the defeat, claiming he was a foul during the vote.

Over-Orthodox constitute more than one-third of the Jewish population of Jerusalem and exert great influence on city politics, which was formerly a super-Orthodox mayor.

The 330,000 Palestinians of East Jerusalem have the right to vote in local elections, but the vast majority remain far away, refusing to recognize Israeli control over the city that they claim to be the capital of their future state.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in the six-day war of 1967 and later linked it to a move that was never recognized by the international community. He considers the entire capital.

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