TONIS – Jerusalem seeks the course of mayors among secular and religious candidates, transformed into a hectic battle over power and influence in the holy city.
Israeli businessman Moshe Lion called for important approval from outgoing New Jerusalem Town Hall Nir Barkat and the Orthodox Jewish Home Home, boosting his chances of becoming the next mayor of the city.
"I believe that the election of Moshe Lion in the second round means choosing the good of Jerusalem and that is why I decided to support him," said Barkat, a member of the Likud party, who finished in front of the Lion at the municipal event of 2013. "With Moses Lion, Jerusalem will succeed."
Laon, an Orthodox Jew who is popular with religious Zionists, has already been backed by many of Jerusalem's powerful super-orthodox community and right-wing Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. He is going to face cosmic bidder Ofer Berkovitch in the launch on November 13th, since no candidate has received at least 40% of the votes in the first round to win completely.
The Lion, who considers himself "unifying", promised to revive the economy of Jerusalem, reach out to the Palestinians, and encourage new residents to remain in the city.
Berkovic struggled on a platform that focuses on economic development, infrastructure and education. It has emphasized the importance of "tolerance" and "coexistence".
"I am the only candidate who is committed to the interests of Jerusalem and not to Lieberman or [ultra-Orthodox leader Aryeh] Deri or the center of Likud, "Berkovitch said in a recent rally.
The struggle for the mayor of Jerusalem, a key position in Israeli politics, drew attention to intense divisions in the country's secular camp and political obstacles to Israeli Prime Minister Binin Netanyahu, whose candidate, Jerusalem Minister of State Affairs, Elkin, voting.
Elkin, a steady supporter and close confidant of Netanyahu, ended third with 20% of the vote, indicating that Netanyahu's influence could weaken, analysts said.
"He (Netanyahu) ratified Likud Zeichi Elkin only late in the match and half-hearted, but Elkin did not even reach the second round," wrote Israeli author Akiva Eldar at Al-Monitor. "Elkin's overwhelming defeat – the Jerusalem affairs minister and a former close associate of Netanyahu – as well as the hit in the Likud faction in the city council – which only won one seat – shows that Netanyahu's support is not necessarily sufficient. "
The Elder added: "Netanyahu may lose his magic. There is no city with which Netanyahu's political and personal identity is more closely linked than the homeland of Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. "
Netanyahu has been involved in a corruption scandal involving members of the inner circle, including his wife and cousin. He has been repeatedly questioned about allegations of corruption, and analysts warn that an indictment could be made.
After Elkin's defeat, the local branch of the Likud party came out to support the Lion, citing his strong nationalist views. Elkin avoided signing up for either a candidate.
Berkovic burst into "speculative bids", he said that Leo had dealt with super-Orthodox leaders and Barkat to seek power.
"All [Lion’s] voters are a great political agreement and has no public legitimacy to lead Jerusalem, "Berkovic said. "We will win … We will win from below, let's beat the bicycle dealers, we will win because Jerusalem understand what their politicians may not yet understand."
Despite losing basic approvals, Berkovic has a stronger power base in Jerusalem than the Lion, whose Jamaul party failed to get a seat in the city council.
If elected mayor, the Lion would need a discharge from the interior ministry of the country to oversee the council.
Palestinian residents, frustrated by the development of Israeli settlements and poor infrastructure, boycott to a large extent the race of mayors, who say they legitimize a system with which they are marginalized and degraded.
"I am not willing to recognize the political rules of the game and to recognize or legalize the Israeli occupation," said Rami Nasralay, general director of the East Jerusalem International Peace and Cooperation Center, ynetnews.
Aziz Abu Sarah, the only Palestinian contender who has been arrested for his post, withdrew from the mayor's tribe one month before the first round of the elections after questioning his residence status.
"It seems that the established political interest groups on both sides are hoping to maintain the status quo and will not stop at anything to prevent progress forward," he wrote on Twitter.