New girl in town

Hagit Moshe talks about taking on two new, challenging roles: deputy mayor and head of the city council’s finance committee.

(From left) Hagit Moshe with Shmuel Shkedi, whom she is replacing on the city council and as head of the finance committee, and Mayor Nir Barkat (photo credit: Courtesy)
(From left) Hagit Moshe with Shmuel Shkedi, whom she is replacing on the city council and as head of the finance committee, and Mayor Nir Barkat
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In a very simple office on the fifth floor of the first building at Safra Square, simultaneously talking on her office phone and answering to a call on her cellphone, Hagit Moshe is adapting smoothly to her new position as deputy mayor and head of the finance committee at the city council.
With a white knitted beret covering part of her hair, light makeup and a large smile, Moshe is slowly but surely sliding into her new position. Facing the extreme opposition of her partner on the list, Arieh King, and an awkward situation in which the religious sector is represented by two lists, Moshe declares her aim is to bring back the old, moderate and safe way of the religious-Zionist sector, “the old National Religious Party we all come from.”
Moshe is married to Yossi Moshe, the head of the Jerusalem branch of the Bayit Yehudi party and a mother of six; originally from Beersheba, she lives in Ramot – in the non-haredi part of the neighborhood, she points out.
This past Sunday, she answered some of In Jerusalem’s questions.
Your nomination for the position was sudden and surprising, to say the least. What exactly happened? It was not a grab [as claimed by King]. Two rabbis who preside over the branch approved it. As for the title of deputy mayor – it was a favor of this mayor – we, as a two-seat list, were not eligible for a deputy mayor. [Mayor Nir] Barkat wanted to give it to the religious Zionist sector and he wanted to give it to someone he could work with. It is no secret that in the two and a half years that this council has been working, King twice went to court against Barkat – so what did he expect?
The religious sector is represented by two lists at the council. Will you work to make it one list?
Most of our constituency indeed would want to see that, it is not easy to explain why we are separated in two lists. We’re working on that.
Being the head of the finance committee is a weighty task. What kind of experience, and of course knowledge, do you bring to it?
I was the coordinator for the committee for a year, I have extensive insight in the work and the tasks of this committee. I know there are quite a few sharks swimming around here. But I have had a whole year to learn things. For me, the most difficult thing is not to manage the finance committee, but to renounce my former position in the education system.
As finance committee head, you may have to approve something that doesn’t fit your religious or political identity. But since you owe this mayor your position, you may find yourself in a very difficult situation. Aren’t you afraid you might become a rubber stamp? Nir Barkat is not the first powerful mayor of this city. So was Ehud Olmert, and yet, presidents of this committee from the religious sector knew how to work their way, and so shall I. You have to know how to work in the political world. I will guard the religious sector’s interests, but also the interests of all the residents.
I will not do anything that goes against my conscience or against those who sent me here. Let’s keep in mind that this mayor has a lot of sympathy for our sector.
Soon you will start to work on the 2017 budget. What are the major challenges, in your view? I think that the situation and the difficulties that owners of small businesses in the city center are facing will be a key focus. As for what we can do to try to continue to live, business as usual will help.
What is your position regarding the trend towards the extreme – both in religion and politics inside the religious sector – and how are you going to face it?
Anything that is not in Halacha does not bind me. I am obligated to Jewish law and nothing beyond. I certainly belong to the moderate traditional line of the old NRP.
What is your position regarding Jews visiting the Temple Mount?
The Temple Mount is very important for me. But I don’t think we should go there now; this is not what will save us now.