(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze'ev Elkin announced on Thursday that he is running in the October 30 race for mayor of the capital.
“I am ready to give up my post as a senior minister and member of the security cabinet for Jerusalem because Jerusalem is a supremely important challenge,” he said.
Elkin had been waiting for weeks to obtain the support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who leads the Likud party and is in charge of the party’s budget for the municipal races. He has not yet obtained that support, which could be worth millions of shekels, but decided to run anyway.
In an interview with Israel Radio, Elkin revealed that when he met with him on Thursday, Netanyahu repeatedly tried to persuade him to remain in the cabinet and not run. But he said he had to make a decision by Thursday, which was the final day before the voting polls in Jerusalem closed.
“I told the prime minister that Jerusalem is where I can contribute best for years to come,” Elkin said. “I conducted polls that found I am the leading candidate.”
Elkin will face off against current deputy mayor Moshe Lion, former deputy mayor Ofer Berkovich and former city officials Avi Salman and Yossi Havilio. While Lion released a statement welcoming Elkin to the race, Berkovich and Havilio criticized their new competition.
Havilio called Elkin “another hitchhiker hoping to use city hall to help get his next job.”
“Jerusalem is not an employment office for politicians,” Berkovich said. “You don’t become a Jerusalemite by changing your address to your parents’ home.”
Elkin countered that as a resident of nearby Gush Etzion, Jerusalem is the center of his life. He recalled that he studied and taught at the Hebrew University before entering politics.
“I have a job, and I am running anyway because I want to give to the people of Jerusalem,” he said.
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