We’re almost there: The long and winding way to the coalition

The most important thing for the city is to gain seven City Council members who will work to serve the interests of a third of the capital’s Jewish population without harming those of the haredim.

By
July 24, 2019 19:04
2 minute read.
We’re almost there: The long and winding way to the coalition

AT STAKE: Will the First Station remain open on Shabbat?. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The matchmaker’s done a good job. The dowry is ready and honorable. The guests (Jerusalemites) are eager to see a beautiful ceremony sealing the deal. But nothing happens – Ofer Berkovitch, the president of the Hitorerut list at City Council, is still the leader of the opposition.
It is now eight months since the October 2018 elections that made Moshe Lion mayor, albeit without even one representative of his list, an unprecedented case in itself. The vote also brought Lion the largest list, the only secular list representing so many Jerusalemites who are still not part of the coalition.
Why is this happening? There are several answers, but the main reason could be too much ego on both sides. On the ground, each side needs the other. Both sides know this, hence their understanding that the presence of Berkovitch and Hitorerut is the best thing for the city. Yet despite rumors in the corridors of Safra Square, the seven seats of Hitorerut are still on the opposition side.
Moshe Lion didn’t plan right from the beginning of his campaign to run a council with only haredi and religious lists. After more than six years since moving from Givatayim to Jerusalem, Lion knows vthat there are plenty of secular, traditional and slightly religious residents for whom a city council in the hands of ultra-Orthodox and religious members is not pleasant, to say the least. He sounds confident while trying to calm all these concerns. Nonetheless, Lion knows that if he doesn’t have representatives in his coalition who can say loud and clear that secular residents have rights in the city that cannot be disregarded, he won’t be able to stay in power too long.
Berkovitch is far from being a hater of haredim. He could be the right person to help Lion establish some balance between the rights of haredi residents without forgetting his secular constituents.
For the moment, Yossi Havilio and Dr. Laura Wharton, who joined Lion’s coalition, are doing their utmost to balance between the sides. However, seven City Council members who would join the coalition would make a very significant difference.
Two issues at stake are the fate of the First Station, and the powerful Jerusalem Local Planning and Building Committee, which is ruled by Deputy Mayor Eliezer Rauchberger (United Torah Judaism). Haredi members of the council are trying once again to stop any activity at the First Station on Shabbat, and Rauchberger is trying to cancel the Warburg project in Kiryat Yovel whose plans include a cultural center for secular residents.
There is no doubt that Lion doesn’t want to harm secular residents, but without Berkovitch and Hitorerut in his coalition, his chances of success are dubious. The most important thing for the city now is to gain seven City Council members who will work to serve the interests of about a third of the capital’s Jewish population without harming those of the haredi sector.
It’s about time that someone makes the first move in order to finally reach a deal, gentlemen.


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