Jerusalem Mayor Barkat to quit, enter national politics

Nir Barkat Photo: Eyal Yitzhar

Nir Barkat will not seek re-election in October's municipal elections and will run in the Likud primaries for the 21st Knesset.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat today posted a video clip on his Facebook page saying that he would not run for re-election as mayor in the upcoming municipal elections in October 30, 2018. Barkat will complete 10 years as mayor in October. He stated in his announcement, "16 years ago, I left all my business and dedicated myself to saving Jerusalem, the city I where I grew up and raised my family, at an annual salary of NIS 1. With the help of many partners, especially Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, we brought about a historic turnaround and put Jerusalem back on the road to growth, with the largest budget in the city's history.

"Now that Jerusalem is back on the right track, I won't run for a third term as mayor. I'll leave city hall at the end of my term, but I'll never leave Jerusalem." Barkat added that he had decided to strengthen the Likud and ask for its members' support in the next elections.

In the most recent elections, Barkat ran against former Prime Minister's Office director general Moshe Lion, who was supported by Yisrael Beitenu. Lion's faction got only one seat on the city council, his own, and has been a city council member ever since.

Lion today announced that he would run for mayor in the upcoming municipal elections, after being severely criticized in the last campaign for not being a resident of the city, and for being unfamiliar with its complexities. He has since moved to Jerusalem, and has lived in Rehavia for the past five years. "Five years ago, I decided to put my previous life aside, and devoted all of my efforts, capabilities, and talents to the benefit of Jerusalem," Lion says. "I put everything I had for the sake of the capital as a city council member, and stepped up my involvement in management of the city. In recent years, I worked by Mayor Barkat's side, and I thank him for the period of our joint accomplishment. We worked together and brought the city forward. I contributed a lot to the city's development, and I'm now more willing than ever to further the progress of Israel's capital." On Tuesday, Lion is expected to launch his election campaign at an event in the Jerusalem Crown Plaza Hotel.

Other candidates include Ofer Berkovitch, chairperson of the Hitorerut B'Yerushalayim movement, which has four city council members. Berkovitch hastened to welcome Barkat's decision. "The time has come to unite around Hitorerut, the only Zionist movement in Jerusalem, which represents all sectors in the city, and Ofer Berkovitch, the leading candidate for mayor," Berkovitch wrote.

Former Jerusalem municipality legal adviser Yossi Havilio, who received the Award for Quality Government from the Movement for Quality Government for his actions against corruption in the municipality, is also running for mayor. Havilio, the leader of the Saving Jerusalem movement, said, "Nir Barkat lost interest in Jerusalem a long time ago, and today we only received official confirmation of what we all knew a long time ago. Jerusalem declined under Barkat, but he didn't do it alone; he did it together with Lion, Berkovitch, and others who were constantly at his side. It is time for different leadership now by someone who has managed to stop part of the damage caused by Barkat, and who as mayor will work on behalf of the interests of the residents, not any political interests."

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - - on March 25, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

Nir Barkat Photo: Eyal Yitzhar
Nir Barkat Photo: Eyal Yitzhar
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