The moderate haredi political faction TOV has resigned from the municipal coalition in Beit Shemesh led by Mayor Moshe Abutbul of the Shas party.
TOV chairman Eli Friedman, the faction’s only municipal council member, sent a letter to the Mayor on Tuesday informing him of the decision.
The party is reportedly unhappy with the failure to improve educational facilities in the city as well as the city’s image, two central aspects of TOV’s platform, and the Mayor’s efforts to promote these issues.
Friedman and TOV have said they will not comment directly on their departure from the municipal council until a press conference scheduled for Sunday.
The Mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment on TOV’s resignation.
Beit Shemesh has witnessed intense friction between the haredi and non-haredi communities of the city over the past year, with ultra-Orthodox elements aggressively protesting the location of a non-haredi school, several attacks against non-haredi women entering ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, and similar incidents.
Mayoral elections are scheduled for October 2013 and efforts are being made by non-haredi residents to put forward a consensus candidate in order to oust the current haredi mayor, Abutbul.
According to Beit Shemesh anti-extremism activist Dov Lipman, progress is being made in choosing a non-haredi candidate who will be able to effectively challenge the incumbent.
“We look forward to one large coalition, from moderate haredim to the non-religious community, who will work together to unseat the mayor and get a fantastic city back on track,” Lipman said following TOV’s resignation from the city council.
Earlier this year, Beit Shemesh Deputy Mayor Shmulik Greenberg of the haredi Degel Hatorah faction announced that he would not be running in the 2013 election for mayor and that the party would be standing behind Abutbul.