Barkat reconciles with ex-rival, Jerusalem's former police chief Levy

Opposition leader bids to unite secular voters in race for mayor.

barkat 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
barkat 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Seeking to unify his secular voter base, Jerusalem opposition leader Nir Barkat has reconciled with former Jerusalem police chief Mickey Levy, a onetime potential opponent in this November's mayoral elections, officials said Thursday. The rapprochement between the two, which comes just two months before the Jerusalem mayoral vote, follows a very public falling-out between the erstwhile political adversaries amid allegations that Barkat had hired two private detectives to spy on Levy and his family while he was based in Washington DC. Barkat's long-sought reconciliation with Levy, which was realized during a weekend meeting between the two organized by a mutual friend, is seen as critical in Barkat's continuing effort to unite the secular as well as traditional and modern-Orthodox voters around his candidacy. During the hour-long meeting, Barkat had offered his apologies to Levy for the incident, a Levy associate said Thursday. Barkat spokesman Evyatar Elad said Thursday that the meeting took place in "a good atmosphere." He declined all further comment as to the content of the meeting. Two private investigators arrested last year for allegedly trailing Levy and gathering personal information about him told police investigators that they had been hired by Barkat. At the time, Barkat denied that he was involved in the incident. "If things were done, they were done without my knowledge and opinion," he said. The two PI's were subsequently released from custody, and never faced charges. Levy, who is currently serving as the director-general of Egged bus cooperative, decided earlier this year not to take part in the mayoral race after returning to Israel following a three-year stint as Israel's police representative to the US. Following his decision not to run in the election, which associates said at the time was primarily due to a lack of funding, Levy unsuccessfully tried to persuade the director-general of Jerusalem's Hadassah University Hospitals, Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yossef, to run in his stead. Barkat is slated to face off against MK Meir Porush of the United Torah Judaism Party - who has replaced Mayor Uri Lupolianski as the haredi party's candidate in the race - and against the Israeli-Russian billionaire tycoon Arkadi Gaydamak in the November 11 mayoral election. Although Gaydamak is trailing a distant third in public opinion polls, he has steadfastly refused to join forces with Barkat or drop out of the race, a stance which analysts say could ease the way for Porush's victory.