Spurred by Likud and ultra-Orthodox officials to challenge Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in October’s mayoral race, Jerusalem Development Authority chairman Moshe Leon is set to officially announce his campaign in the capital Monday afternoon.

Leon, of Givatayim, is an accountant who has served as director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Israel Railways Authority.

He has a close relationship with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avigdor Liberman.

Because he is Orthodox, Leon, who will have to relocate to Jerusalem, has also won the support of United Torah Judaism and Shas officials, who have endorsed him due to Barkat’s perceived liberal ideology.

Indeed, the haredi parties have been seeking a candidate who is religious, but not haredi, to run against Barkat, Likud city councilman Elisha Peleg said last month.

“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 added that as head of the JDA, Leon was involved in the city’s key projects and learned what is necessary to move the city forward. 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 recently named a highway interchange after Netanyahu’s father, Benzion.

Dudi Amsalem, director of the City Beautification Division and a veteran Likud member, is expected to join Leon’s slate.

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