Mayor Nir Barkat.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has decided to announce on Sunday that he is not running for a third term as mayor in October’s municipal election and will be entering national politics, sources in the municipality said on Tuesday morning.
Barkat made the decision long ago, but he decided to wait to announce it until after he passed Jerusalem’s budget, which is set to happen on Thursday.
After The Jerusalem Post
started asking questions at city hall about Sunday’s press conference, Barkat’s office leaked to television stations that he had made the decision and then immediately released a prepared statement denying it.
“There is nothing new,” the statement said. “Barkat intends to pass in the city council on Thursday Jerusalem’s largest-ever budget thanks to the support he obtained from government ministries. As he promised, immediately after he budget passes, he will announce his decision.”
Sources close to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon told the Post earlier on Tuesday that Barkat did not receive a single shekel out of his lengthy campaign against the Treasury, which started and ended with Jerusalem being allocated NIS 700 million for 2018.
They said that Barkat only stopped the campaign last week when it appeared that an early national election would be called. “He suddenly stopped the fight and took down the signs that were hung all over the city attacking the Finance Ministry,” a source close to Kahlon said.
The Central Bureau of Statistics revealed on Tuesday that housing starts in Jerusalem declined the most of any district in 2017, down 24% from 2016, as opposed to a national decline of 14%. Kahlon’s signature low mortgage housing project that has progressed nationwide is stalled in the capital, which also recently lost out on receiving a branch of Ikea due to bureaucracy in the city.
Barkat’s spokesman said late Tuesday that Barkat “hasn’t made a decision yet” about his future and would decide only after the budget passes.