(photo credit: Melanie Lidman)
Community council elections in Jerusalem will go ahead as planned on November
20, despite questions about whether to hold local the vote so close to national
elections, a Jerusalem municipal spokeswoman said on Sunday.
in the municipality’s charter prohibits community council elections from taking
place within six months of national or city elections, in order to minimize
party interference on a neighborhood level. A municipality spokeswoman said,
however, the elections would take place as planned.
“The issue was
examined by the Central Elections Committee chairwoman and retired judge Bilhah
Kahana, the municipality’s legal adviser, and the legal adviser from the
community councils [and they] all found that there is no reason to stop the
elections at the appointed time,” she said.
Another spokeswoman added
that since most of the lists for party membership are already closed, the threat
of influence on a local level is minimized. Additionally, postponing the
elections for six months after the national elections on January 22 would mean
that the elections would be within six months of Jerusalem’s mayoral elections,
set for fall 2013.
On November 20, residents in the 14 neighborhoods of
French Hill, Givat Masua, Kiryat Menahem, Beit Hakerem, East Talpiyot, Neveh
Ya’acov, City Center/Nahlaot, Kiryat Hayovel, Givat Shaul, Romema, Ramat Shlomo,
Wadi Joz, Har Nof, Pisgat Ze’ev and Abu Tur will vote for their local
The community councils are made up of nine elected members and
six appointed members and deal with local issues such as cultural events,
education and ensuring that the municipality carries out
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat renewed the election process for
community councils in 2010, and each year a number of neighborhoods are expected
to elect a new council until the entire city has new community councils. Prior
to the election process, some councils had not changed since they were appointed
by former mayor Teddy Kollek.
Last year, nearly 13,000 residents of
Jerusalem took part in local elections to choose representatives for the
community councils in four neighborhoods.
Approximately 17 percent of
eligible residents voted in the neighborhoods of Gilo, Greater Baka,
South/Katamon and the Bukharan Quarter, which includes Mea She’arim.
low turnout was expected as it is the first year that these communities can vote
for their local council.
The Bukharan Quarter elections were tense, with
local rabbis threatening to enforce gender separation at the polls in the days
leading up to the vote.
A strong undercover police presence ensured that
no gender separation took place and voting went peacefully for most of the day.
However, at the very end of the night, extremists stormed into the voting
station in the Mea She’arim neighborhood.
Shouting “Women, get out!” a
group of haredi men forced the women to leave and tore up the voting slips,
according to a video from Channel 2. Local haredi media said the disturbance was
most likely the result of a clash between two candidates rather than an attempt
to exclude women. The Bukharan Quarter elections were subsequently disqualified.