Enduring crime problem looms large in Netanya race

Mayor Feierberg, head of the One Netanya faction, is now fighting for a third term in office.

netanya abutbul mafia mob hit crime 88 (photo credit: )
netanya abutbul mafia mob hit crime 88
(photo credit: )
During the height of a mob war which ravaged Netanya in August, Mayor Miriam Feierberg arrived at a police station to discuss the growing violence and by chance crossed paths with alleged crime boss Francois Abutbul. Abutbul had been called in by police to "discuss" the attempted assassination of his uncle, who was shot and badly wounded in a kiosk; three civilians were wounded in the attack. "You kiss my cheek on one side, and stick a knife in my back on the other," Abutbul told Feierberg, while he was surrounded by an army of lawyers and bodyguards. "Me? Stick a knife in your back? You stuck a knife in Netanya's back," she responded. Three months later, still in the shadow of violent organized crime, Feierberg, head of the One Netanya faction, is fighting for a third term in office. Her opponents are many: Netanya's 27 city council seats are being sought by 25 different factions, most of which are the product of internal splits within established parties. Feierberg's own party split off from the Likud to run as an independent party, a fact which did not prevent the Likud from putting up posters portraying the mayor as running with the Likud's own list. On Sunday, the High Court of Justice ordered the signs removed, ruling that they deliberately misled voters. Feierberg's most prominent rivals include municipal worker Herzl Keren, head of the Faction for Netanya list, who has fought a bitter campaign against the incumbent. Keren's party threatened legal action against One Netanya for posting election materials on public property and accused Feierberg of exploiting her position to ensure a third term. Beyond the threat of violence plaguing the city, hot election issues include the future of the city's hotel industry and its role as a tourist attraction, education for the city's underprivileged youths, and a proposed rehabilitation of the downtown area. National parties such as Shas, the Pensioners Party, Israel Beiteinu and Kadima are each running candidates, together with a large number of local parties, all of whom promise voters a better, safer and richer Netanya.