Likud officials have asked Jerusalem Development Authority chairman Moshe Leon
to challenge mayor Nir Barkat in the October 22 mayoral race, Likud City
Councilman Elisha Peleg said on Thursday.
Leon is an accountant who has
served as director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Israel
Railways Authority. He is close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Knesset
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avigdor Liberman and appeals to
United Torah Judaism and Shas officials because he is religious.
haredi parties have been seeking a candidate who is religious but not haredi to
run against Barkat. Peleg said Jerusalem city councilmen from the two parties
have told him they would support Leon if he ran.
“I have been telling
Likud leaders for months that the governing party must field a candidate in
Jerusalem and I am glad they listened to me,” Peleg said. “Moshe Leon would be a
perfect fit for the city.”
Peleg said that as head of the JDA, Leon was
involved in the city’s key projects and learned what is needed to advance the
city. He complained that Barkat was not right-wing enough and had made too many
compromises with Meretz.
While Barkat criticized Netanyahu early in his
tenure for not devoting enough funds to Jerusalem, the prime minister and the
mayor have gotten along recently. Barkat appeared at a Netanyahu press
conference two days before the election for prime minister and he recently named
a highway interchange after Netanyahu’s father, Benzion.
Leon has not
given an answer about whether he will accept the invitation to run.