Gaza evacuee running for Ashkelon Coast Council chair

Lior Kalfa from Neveh Dekalim aims to improve educational system, expand tourism.

settlers in ashkelon 298 (photo credit: )
settlers in ashkelon 298
(photo credit: )
Lior Kalfa, formerly of Neveh Dekalim, intends to run for head of the Ashkelon Coast Council, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Kalfa, 37, plans to relinquish his current position as chair of the Gush Katif Residents Committee in October so he can focus on the November 27 vote. He has lived in Ashkelon for the past two years, since being evacuated from the Gaza Strip during 2005's disengagement. "My goals for the Ashkelon Coast are to improve the existing educational system, to introduce informal educational programming to the community and to expand the tourist industry here," Kalfa said. He also wants to introduce more after-school activities for the community's youth, and to take advantage of the two harbors that border the local council's area, at Nitzan and Kibbutz Zikkim. "These shores have tremendous potential to bring in tourists and a new source of income for residents," Kalfi said. "I also hope to enhance the quality of life for the residents, so that the needs of everyone in the population will be catered to." More than 20 percent of the voters in the area are former residents of Gush Katif, but he says he is garnering support from long-time residents as well. "I am really hopeful that the community will elect me," he said. "The community of Ashkelon has come to know me and they are open to new people and new ideas. They ask tough questions, but I think in the end they will come to make the right decision." Kalfa's main challengers are Ratzon Ben-Shalom, vice chairman of the council, Ehud Reich, director of the economic development corporation, and Yair Farjun. There are five or six candidates at this stage, but Kalfa expects this number will be whittled down to two or three by the time the election rolls around. Kalfi says he has plans to build on outgoing council chairman Shimon Cohen's accomplishments, as well as introduce new initiatives, such as better protection against the Kassam rockets that have targeted nearby Kibbutz Yad Mordechai. As chairman of the Gush Katif Resident's Committee, Kalfa has been the Gaza evacuees' spokesman in the Knesset for the last two years. Before that, he was active in the Bnei Akiva youth movement, overseeing 90 branches across the country, from Rishon Lezion to Eilat. For the last six years, he has also been involved in education and municipal affairs. In Neveh Dekalim, he was chairman of the religious girl's high school (ulpana), and head of the local residents committee. Doron Ben-Shlomi, from Moshav Shekef in the Negev, is slated to take over as head of the Gush Katif Residents Committee come October.