In a surprise last-minute move that represented an important victory for
Jerusalem’s community activists, all residents in the Lev Ha’ir neighborhoods
will be able to vote in the local elections on November 20. The neighborhood
election committee will vote in the coming week to cancel Clause 5.8 in the
Nahlaot, Musrara, Jewish Quarter, downtown and Shaare Hesed neighborhoods, which
make up Lev Ha’ir. Clause 5.8 is a complicated provision of the city’s local
elections charter aimed at avoiding a haredi or Hamas takeover of the local
Five local councils will be elected under the new Clause 5.8,
which requires all voters to submit proof they have been active in community
life for at least a year and have 50 signatures from residents supporting their
effort to be classified as a “community activist.”
Residents in Lev Ha’ir
were furious with the clause, which they felt excluded them from the democratic
Nahlaot resident and community activist Aaron Leibowitz said he
could not believe the community council changed their mind at the last
“I think what was behind this was the public pressure,” said
Leibowitz, as he headed to a meeting with the mayor that residents had requested
last week to argue against Clause 5.8.
More than 50 Lev Ha’ir residents
caused a disturbance at the last city council meeting as well over their
displeasure with Clause 5.8.
“There is a feeling of justification we won
this struggle, but a feeling of frustration at the immense amount of work that
was put on 5.8 and the time that was lost organizing a campaign [to run in the
local elections],” he said.
The Lev Ha’ir community council recommended
the cancellation of Clause 5.8 on Tuesday, though the city’s Local Elections
Committee must still meet in order to formalize the decision, said Ayala Wohl,
who is in charge of Jerusalem’s local elections.
The Local Elections
Committee is not opposed to Lev Ha’ir’s decision, she said.
that the residents got really worked up and that the residents want regular
elections,” she said.
The city created Clause 5.8 to deal with
neighborhoods that have mixed haredi and non-haredi populations.
worry is that the ultra- Orthodox are better organized than non-haredi residents
and therefore will mobilize their vote much more efficiently.
neighborhoods, the city fears a repeat of last year’s elections in the Beit
Hanina neighborhood. The municipality canceled the election there at the last
minute after it received word that Hamas activists were organizing an effort to
take over the local council.
Each community council is made up of nine
elected members and six appointed members, and deals with local issues such as
cultural events, education and ensuring that the municipality delivers
The council seats are volunteer positions and are separate from
the professional staff at the Matnas community centers.
“We are happy
that democracy has prevailed and that the residents of Lev Hair will be able to
vote for their own representatives,” said City Councilor Rachel Azaria. “[This]
proves that when us Jerusalemites are dedicated and united for a cause, we
The neighborhood councils of Beit Ross (Kiryat Moshe, Givat Shaul,
Mordot Bayit Vegan and Givat Mordechai), Wadi Joz, ATur, Ramot and Romema will
still vote under Clause 5.8.