The moderate haredi political faction TOV has resigned from the municipal
coalition in Beit Shemesh led by Mayor Moshe Abutbul of the Shas
TOV chairman Eli Friedman, the faction’s only municipal council
member, sent a letter to the mayor on Tuesday informing him of the
The party is reportedly unhappy with the failure to improve
local educational facilities as well as the city’s image – two central aspects
of TOV’s platform – and with the mayor’s efforts to promote these
Friedman and TOV have declined to comment directly on their
departure from the municipal council until a press conference scheduled for
The mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment on
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 nonharedi
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-orthodox residents to put forward
a consensus candidate in order to oust the current haredi mayor,
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.
month, Beit Shemesh Deputy Mayor Shmulik Greenberg of the ultra-Orthodox 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.