Moshe Lion and Nir Barkat 521.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Kobi Kahlon, the No. 4 candidate on Nir Barkat’s electoral list for the Jerusalem City Council, was recorded promising a Shas official that the party would receive the haredi education portfolio as well as control over certain city hall committees if it supports Barkat in the mayoral election.
The report, revealed by Channel 2, comes as something of an embarrassment to Barkat, who has frequently attacked his opponent Moshe Lion for being beholden to Shas and Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman, who have strongly promoted his candidacy.
“You will be have seniority with me,” said Kahlon to an unnamed Shas official. “I want Shas to the scales.”
Kahlon said Shas would get the haredi education portfolio and that Barkat himself had approved this. He said he would convince Barkat to also give Shas control over the committee responsible for the allocation of municipally owned buildings in the city.
In response to the report, Barkat’s campaign staff said the haredi parties in the Jerusalem City Council have been in charge of these positions for the past five-year term, and insisted that the recorded discussion was an informal conversation.
A spokesman for the Lion campaign described the offer as “a blank check to the haredim” in return for political support.
“This conversation represents merely the tip of the iceberg and is widely representative of the type of crooked conversations that have been taking place over the last few months and have already secured Barkat significant haredi support,” said a Lion campaign spokesman.
“Just as he won the last election through backroom deals with the haredim, Barkat is hoping to buy the elections at the expense of the residents of Jerusalem.”
Barkat’s campaign returned fire by saying that the senior municipal portfolios would remain in the mayor’s hands.
“The dirty deal of [Shas chairman Arye] Deri and Liberman to take control of Jerusalem and the senior portfolios such as Building and Construction, and the Finance portfolio, have been roundly rejected,” the Barkat campaign said.
“Barkat’s commitments are to the public as a whole, and not to any party or political patron.”