(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly postponed his decision about whether to endorse Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin’s candidacy for Jerusalem mayor, but his endorsement appeared increasingly less likely Sunday.
Netanyahu had promised a decision by Friday to Elkin, who will only run if he receives several million shekels in party funding from Likud. But Netanyahu postponed his decision until Sunday and a meeting of coalition heads set for Sunday, in which Elkin’s candidacy was due to be discussed, was postponed due to the funeral of Misa Kahlon, Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon’s mother.
Elkin was seen holding a lengthy discussion at the funeral with current Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and United Torah Judaism head Ya’acov Litzman. The support of Litzman and other haredi (ultra-Orthodox) politicians could be crucial for Elkin to win the race that will be held in October.
Netanyahu’s decision was expected to be impacted by negotiations between UTJ and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party on a new haredi enlistment bill. The prime minister could prefer to reject Elkin in favor of current Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Moshe Lion, a former Netanyahu adviser who is backed by Liberman and Shas leader Arye Deri.
Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai is also waiting for a decision by his party to obtain its funding to run for Jerusalem mayor. But his chances could have been hurt by an uproar over the weekend after he told the right-wing Makor Rishon newspaper that calling him a leftist was “a stain.”
Both Elkin, who lives in the Gush Etzion settlement Kfar Eldad, and Shai, who lives in the western Jerusalem suburb Mevaseret Zion, would have to formally move to Jerusalem in order to run.
Meanwhile, Likud officials confirmed a report in Yediot Aharonot that the party decided not to run a candidate for Tel Aviv mayor after it conducted polls indicating that any possible Likud candidate would lose by a landslide to incumbent Mayor Ron Huldai. Likud MK Oren Hazan, who is contemplating running for the post, would not even get 20% of the vote, according to the polls.
The Likud sources said Hazan’s candidacy was “not serious” because he also looked into running for mayor of Jerusalem, Ashkelon and Ariel.
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