(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The senior rabbinic leadership of Degel Hatorah and Shas has formally backed Moshe Lion for mayor of Jerusalem, with the haredi daily newspaper and Degel mouthpiece Yated Ne’eman publishing a notice from rabbis Haim Kanievsky and Gershon Edelstein announcing their support for him on Sunday.
The announcement comes amid a rancorous split between non-hassidic Degel and its United Torah Judaism partner hassidic Agudat Yisrael Party in municipal elections in several cities, including Jerusalem, Elad, Haifa and Beitar-Illit.
Although Degel and Shas are backing Lion, a non-haredi candidate from the national-religious community, the Agudah has backed Jerusalem Municipal Council Member Yossi Daitch, who comes from the Slonim hassidic group.
The announcement in Yated Ne’eman
stated that Degel’s Jerusalem rabbinical committee had “guided” its representatives in the capital in their numerous meetings to decide which candidate to back.
It added that these representatives met with “the majority” of the mayoral candidates to understand their positions on “issues that touch on the holiness of Jerusalem and their fittingness to fulfill the needs of the haredi community in general, and especially the community of the those who study Torah, including in mixed neighborhoods where the haredi community has suffered from outrageous discrimination and whose needs have been ignored in an intolerable manner.”
The notice also stated that Shas’s spiritual leader Rabbi Shalom Cohen has also backed Lion.
There is a reported caveat, however, that if Lion fails to show in polls that he can gain significant support from the non-haredi community by the middle of October, Degel may withdraw its support for a candidate with better chances.
Daitch has previously said that he has no intention of quitting the race, and appears to be pinning his hopes on gaining at least partial haredi backing in the event that Degel retracts support from Lion.
Given the divisions over the municipal elections between Degel and Agudah, which include several local disputes, it seems unlikely that Daitch will be successful in this bid.
Agudah has backed Daitch however, and is recruiting support for him from beyond the haredi community.
Last week, Agudat Yisrael chairman and deputy health minister Ya’acov Litzman met with the head of the Yahad party Eli Yishai. Yahad is running in 40 municipal authorities across the country, including Jerusalem, where it is running on a joint list with Aryeh King’s United party.
Although Yahad has not formally announced its support for a mayoral candidate, it is believed to be leaning toward backing Daitch in the first round, together with Agudah, so as to knock out Lion, who is heavily connected to Yishai’s nemesis, Shas chairman Aryeh Deri.
In a second-round run-off vote, Yahad would then back Elkin, The Jerusalem Post
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