Jerusalem’s mayor threatens to fire last pluralist group in city coalition

Without Hitorerut in the coalition, Barkat will be left with mostly ultra-Orthodox council members.

Nir Barkat (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Nir Barkat
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said he might fire members of the Hitorerut Party – the only faction that is both secular and religious – from the city coalition. This comes in light of a petition filed with the Jerusalem District Court by the pluralist faction members against Barkat, claiming he ordered municipality administration officials to avoid meeting with them.
In a letter sent to the four Hitorerut council representatives earlier this week, Barkat wrote: “A situation in which coalition members are petitioning against the mayor is impossible, just like it is unbearable to think that a cabinet minister will appeal against the prime minister.”
Barkat then called on the faction to retract their petition for “the sake of future of Jerusalem.” However, a source close to Hitorerut leader, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Ofer Berkovitch told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday the petition will not be retracted.
“The party has been trying to negotiate with Barkat for months, but he brought us to a situation in which we are paralyzed,” Berkovitch said.
Without Hitorerut in the coalition, Barkat – who ran for office on the pluralist ticket – will be left only with mostly ultra-Orthodox members.
Berkovitch said the mayor is preventing his party members from meeting municipality administrative officials because of Hitorerut’s objection to Barkat’s master-neighborhoods plan, which will essentially divide the city into religious and secular neighborhoods. According to the plan, ultra-Orthodox institutions and kindergartens are planned to be built in neighborhoods that have traditionally been considered secular.
“The whole municipality operation is not the mayor’s private property and does not belong to him. This attitude of ‘I am the city’ is not legal and harms the residents of the city,” he said.
“Barkat signed this ‘neighborhoods deal’ with the Degel HaTorah faction, who comprise only three members of 31 council-people.
By that, he excludes the secular pubic, the conservative, the national-religious, the hassidic community and the Sephardi- haredim [ultra-Orthodox],” Berkovitch said.