New guy in town – Ze’ev Elkin’s candidacy

The new candidate fielded questions over the phone this week just a few hours before joining the prime minister to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Ze'ev Elkin
Z e’ev Elkin announced on Tuesday that he is running for mayor of Jerusalem and he anticipates securing the official support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He fielded questions from In Jerusalem over the phone this week just a few hours before joining the prime minister to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
What made you go public with your candidacy this week?
At a recent party meeting there was broad agreement there should be a candidate from the Likud for such an important position. While the final word on the selection of the candidate will come from the prime minister, I have expressed my intention and desire to serve the people of Jerusalem in this role.
As you know, the city of Jerusalem is complex and the relationships between the different sectors of the population can make governing challenging. How will you handle key issues if you are elected?
I am well aware of the complexity of Jerusalem and the consequent tensions; I have been deeply involved in these matters for quite some time, particularly as Jerusalem affairs minister. I am prepared to address the many challenges facing all sectors – such as the lack of affordable housing, which prevents so many young families from remaining in the city. Regarding the city’s budgetary issues, which increase every year due to the widening gap between revenues and the extensive expenses, I have for years been dealing with this as a leading member of the Knesset Lobby for Jerusalem. As for handling thorny tensions, my experience as president of the coalition is good training and demonstrates my ability to play a key role in bridging wildly diverse viewpoints and reaching resolutions.
Will you work to enable secular residents to feel at home in Jerusalem?
Absolutely. I believe that the issues at stake in Jerusalem are also among the biggest challenges in the country. The solutions and successes we achieve in Jerusalem and lessons we learn here provide models that can be applied to the rest of the country. The different sectors here are not going anywhere; Jerusalem needs them all and we all have to learn to live together.
In a way, Jerusalem’s challenges provide a testing ground for the State of Israel to learn how best to flourish as a diverse society.
What do you say to the Arab residents?
They are part of the city’s population. Two lists [of Arabs] are running for council seats, although I believe that few [Arabs] will choose to vote. East Jerusalem is a great challenge with many needs – infrastructure, classrooms, housing. I am well aware of all these problems and I will work on that intensively. It is a moral imperative to address these matters; doing otherwise would only exacerbate the problems in the end.
Would you recommend that more of them accept Israeli citizenship?
I don’t think that this their most urgent desire. Improving conditions is more aligned with their current needs and wishes and I will work on this.