(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Shas will open its campaign for the Jerusalem city council on Tuesday with great fanfare and expectations that the party will soon make its endorsement for mayor.
Multiple sources confirmed a report by Makor Rishon political analyst Shalom Yerushalmi that Shas would endorse Moshe Lion for mayor in the coming week. But when asked whether Lion will be attending Shas’s event on Tuesday, his spokeswoman said it had not yet been finalized.
Such a decision by the Sephardi Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) party to back Lion, who is Sephardi, over Haredi deputy mayor Yossi Daitch would likely kill off Daitch’s candidacy before it was officially announced, because he depended on receiving the support of all the city’s Haredim to win the October 30 race.
After a Channel 2 poll last week found that Lion was in fourth place with only 11% of the vote, receiving the backing of Shas could give his candidacy new life. If United Torah Judaism endorsed Lion after an announcement that Daitch would not run, Lion could become a front-running candidate.
“If we get the support of 75,000 Haredim, we would not need more than the backing of the non-Haredim who already back us in order to win,” a source close to Lion said.
Lion has warned Shas and United Torah Judaism that if Daitch ran in the crowded field, he could make it to a second round of voting but lose that run-off race to secular candidate Ofer Berkovich of the Hitorerut Party.
“The Haredim are not willing to take a risk,” a source close to Lion said. “They only want to go with a sure bet, and Moshe is a sure bet.”
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Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin is also vying for the support
of UTJ and has hired haredi advisers. He made a point of being photographed putting a mezuza on the doorpost of his new campaign office Monday with Sephardi Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar.
Elkin was noticeably absent Monday from an event launch in the Likud’s campaign for the Jerusalem city council. The Likud minister turned down a chance to run under the Likud banner and decided instead to run on the former list of current Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, Jerusalem Will Succeed.
One reason Elkin said he made the decision was that the Likud list that was chosen before he announced his candidacy had 10 men and no women. But a Likud spokesman said Monday that a woman would receive the third slot on the party’s list.
The Likud event, which was held at the party’s branch in downtown Jerusalem, was attended by Likud ministers Israel Katz, Haim Katz, Tzachi Hanegbi and Gila Gamliel, and MKs David Amsalem, David Bitan, Nava Boker, Sharren Haskel, Avraham Neguise, Anat Berko, Miki Zohar, Nurit Koren and Oren Hazan.
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