Compilation photo of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and UTJ leader Yaacov Litzman.
(photo credit: MARC SELLEM/YOEL LEVI)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a lengthy meeting at the Knesset on Monday afternoon with United Torah Judaism leader Ya’acov Litzman about the race for mayor of Jerusalem.
Litzman told The Jerusalem Post after the meeting that his party’s rabbis would only decide who to back for Jerusalem mayor two months before the October 30 election, unless a haredi (ultra-orthodox) candidate would run. Litzman’s indecision could make it harder for the prime minister to decide whether to back Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin’s candidacy.
Elkin has decided that he would only run if Netanyahu agrees to give him several million shekels in funding from their Likud Party. Netanyahu has repeatedly postponed his decision on the matter.
At a closed-door meeting of the Likud faction in the Knesset Monday, Netanyahu listened to party activists push him one after another to endorse Elkin.
He responded that the lobbying was unnecessary.
“I understand the importance of him running for Jerusalem mayor, and I don’t need mediators to relay the message,” Netanyahu told the activists. “I need Elkin in the government and the security cabinet. I will decide soon and tell Elkin directly.”
Elkin serves as an interpreter for Netanyahu during his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin every three months. Netanyahu also appreciates Elkin’s backing on diplomatic and security issues and his political support.
Meanwhile, in the Labor Party, MK Nachman Shai expressed confidence that he could win the race for Jerusalem mayor. But Shai said he would only run if he receives funding from his party.
Labor secretary-general Eran Hermoni, who heads the party’s municipal committee, denied an Israel Radio report that the party had already decided not to fund Shai’s candidacy.
“We think Nachman would be a very strong candidate,” Hermoni said. “We will hold a meeting on the issue next week and see how it goes.”
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