Ofir Akunis at the JPost Annual Conference 2017 .
(photo credit: SIVAN FARAG)
Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis, of the Likud, is considering running for mayor of Tel Aviv in November’s municipal election, he said on Thursday.
Current Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, who came from the Left, has been in the position since 1998.
“After 20 years, Tel Aviv needs a change,” Akunis told Army Radio. “We can thank Ron Huldai for what he’s done.”
The minister will have to make a decision about whether to run by April, he said.
“If I decide to run, I’ll win,” Akunis added.
Akunis, 44, was born in Tel Aviv and continues to live there. He was first elected to the Knesset in 2009, and has been involved in Likud politics since 1996, including stints as a spokesman for the party and for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Likud minister’s interview included a reference to a recent interview with Huldai, in which the mayor said he once ate a dog during a visit to Vietnam.
“I don’t eat dogs,” Akunis said.
Huldai’s remark was subject to mockery on social media, and horror from religious news outlets, since dogs are not kosher.
Likud MK Nurit Koren took the comment seriously, and said it was a sign of his elitism, in the vein of Mapai, the predecessor of the Labor Party.
“Such disrespect is characteristic of Mapai leadership, of which Huldai is a descendant,” she said. “I feel revulsion and shock from the cruelty of the mayor. At the same time, when I help residents of neighborhoods like Abu Kabir, Neveh Amal and Tel Giborim,” home to lower income residents, “I see a direct line between the behavior of Huldai’s forefathers, the founders of Mapai, and the mistakes they made with their heartlessness.”
Huldai’s office said that the mayor ate a dog when he was a guest of a farmer in Vietnam, who invited him to his home, and ate in order to be polite.