A plethora of portfolios

Sole Likud representative Elisha Peleg, though not a member in the previous term, is no stranger to the city council.

elisha peleg (photo credit: )
elisha peleg
(photo credit: )
During Teddy Kollek's days, Elisha Peleg was already an elected representative and, just as now, he belonged to a wall-to-wall coalition, representing the Likud. In between, he challenged another Likud mayoral candidate in the 1993 elections - and lost. In 1998 he served on the city council for a year, replacing the person who had preceded him on the list. He also serves the residents of Beersheba as municipal attorney. Peleg, who sees himself as a staunch warrior against bribery and an "energetic tool against inefficiency," has been in charge of Jerusalem's Sanitation Department for quite some time. Kollek used to call him "the first-class sanitation portfolio holder." Peleg says he is totally dedicated to municipal affairs and the public's needs. "Although I do not receive a salary for my activities as a city council member, if I were asked to give up my job or continue being a city council member, I would not even hesitate: I would remain a city council member." And indeed, Peleg has already informed Beersheba's newly elected mayor of his intention to resign. "I am expecting my replacement to be chosen pretty soon, and then I will be free to devote all my time to the city of Jerusalem and its residents." How will he make it as an unemployed city councilor? "I don't know. I'll figure something out," says Peleg simply. Peleg is 55, divorced and a father of two - a boy and a girl, both officers in the IDF, of which he is very proud. Peleg was born in Kfar Saba and "made aliya," as he calls it, to Jerusalem while serving as the Likud spokesman for the 1977 elections, which for the first time in the country's history broke the hegemony of the Labor Party. Since his divorce following his failure to be elected mayor in 1998 - a failure that also cost him a lot financially - he has been living in Kiryat Hayovel. "I love being involved in public affairs," Peleg reiterates. It is already way past nine in the evening, and he is still busy working on his various tasks, after spending most of his Shabbat - as director of the sports programs in the city - checking, while at the same time enjoying, the situation at Teddy Stadium. "We launched a new, modern and sophisticated PA system that cost NIS 600,000 and I'm working on finding a solution for the junior team of Betar, who have to go all the way to Ramle to find a playing field for their training. That is something I must find a solution for immediately," he says. On Shabbat, he also visited the Jewish residents of the Ma'aleh Hazayit neighborhood, who have been complaining about daily attacks and harassment from their Arab neighbors. Peleg, a right-winger who strongly believes in Jewish settlement in east Jerusalem, invited Mayor Nir Barkat to join him on Saturday night to see for himself and hear the residents' claims. "True, these are issues of a national scale, but it is the municipality's responsibility to alert those in charge in the police or the defense ministries," says Peleg. In addition to the sanitation portfolio, Peleg is responsible for the sports (including the Arena project), emergency and firefighting portfolios. He is also a member of the Finance, Tenders, Planning and Construction and Emergency committees. According to Peleg, the atmosphere at Kikar Safra has already changed for the better. "Heads of departments feel the change in the air and are committed." Peleg is also in favor of closing down the New Jerusalem Foundation, an organization which, he says, "was created only to please former mayor [Ehud] Olmert and has been totally superfluous from the beginning. When it comes to fund-raising, there's no one better than Ruth Cheshin [of the Jerusalem Foundation], and I say this even though we don't share the same political views." Regarding his being the only representative of his party on the city council, Peleg says that he decided to run "because I just couldn't stand the idea that the Likud would not be represented on the Jerusalem city council, even if it is a one-man show." In addition, Peleg was chosen (after a public tender) to serve as head of the newly created authority for the protection of the consumers and for fair trade" of the Labor, Industry and Trade Ministry. The Movement for Quality Government opposed the nomination, claiming that there were better candidates for the job, and Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz decided to freeze the nomination. "I was not even told about the cancelation," says Peleg, "so I appealed to the Supreme Court. I have no doubt I will win. It's just a pity that because I am such a revolutionary, they are afraid of me." Meanwhile, Peleg continues to commute to Beersheba and hopes that the next election will bring him to the desirable sixth floor at Kikar Safra.