Haredi squabbles deepen in municipal race

Member of Knesset Moshe Gafni strongly defended his party’s backing for Moshe Lion for mayor of Jerusalem, who is not haredi but is backed by Shas as well, and is part of the Shas-Degel agreement.

October 11, 2018 01:08
1 minute read.
MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ)

MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) speaks at a finance committee meeting on January 15th, 2018. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)


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Degel Hatorah’s recent merge with the Sephardi Shas party and its growing distance from its partner in United Torah Judaism, Agudat Israel, continued Wednesday when Shas announced that it was backing Degel’s Yitzhak Findrus for mayor of the largely haredi city of Elad against Agudat Yisrael’s incumbent mayor Yisrael Porush.

Findrus met with Shas spiritual leader Shalom Cohen in his home in the Old City of Jerusalem along with party leader Aryeh Deri and gave him his “warm blessings” that he win the mayorship.

Shas’s support for Findrus’s candidacy in Elad is part of a broader agreement in several cities, including Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh, that encourages mutual support by Shas and Degel for each other’s candidates.

Member of Knesset Moshe Gafni strongly defended his party’s backing for Moshe Lion for mayor of Jerusalem, who is not haredi but is backed by Shas as well, and is part of the Shas-Degel agreement. Lion is a close associate of Deri’s.

Gafni said that although Lion is not haredi the leading rabbis of Degel had backed him in the last municipal election in 2013, including the late Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, and that the current rabbinical leadership including Rabbi Haim Kanievsky and Rabbi Gershon Edelstein had issued their support for him at this time.

MK Gafni also obliquely referenced the fact, without mentioning them by name, that the Gur hassidic community, as well as some others, famously voted for Barkat against Agudat Yisrael’s candidate Meir Porush in the 2008 election, as well as against Lion, who is National Religious, in 2013 and should be held to account for what he described as “discrimination” against the haredi population in Jerusalem.

Gafni also denied that there was any deal involving Degel supporting Lion in return for flexibility from Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman over the haredi military enlistment bill, which could potentially bring down the government. Lion is close with Liberman, who backed him in the 2013 mayoral election.

At the same time, the campaign team of Jerusalem mayoral candidate Yossi Daitch said that Rabbi Zvi Tau, head of the staunchly conservative Har Hamor yeshiva and one of the most prominent leaders of the conservative wing of the National Religious community, has given him his backing and instructed his followers to vote for him.

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