Corridors of Power: The Kikar Safra shuffle

Out with the old, in with the new as City Hall prepares to accommodate its new tenants and committees.

Barkat speaks to supporters 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Barkat speaks to supporters 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Strangely enough, the sixth floor at Kikar Safra - the goal of the mayoral elections - has remained empty since voting day: elected city councillors, old and new, are not to be found in its corridors, and the employees are trying to act as if it's "business as usual." For some of the high-ranking employees, it is clear that their days at Kikar Safra are coming to an end. Within a few days, activity will resume at Kikar Safra, for a new five-year term, when Barkat will present his new coalition and take charge. In the meantime, exciting action has been taking place elsewhere, with its inevitable speculations, disinformation and, alas, lies and gratuitous hatred. Let's start with the big losers of this campaign: the haredi community. If the opening shot was the "war on Ger" slogan shouted by thousands of haredim upon hearing of their defeat, it continued with Ger leader and MK Ya'acov Litzman's being attacked in a Mea She'arim synagogue last Shabbat. MK Meir Porush's faction blames the Ger hassidim for sabotaging his election bid. In fact, according to a member of the team that planned Porush's campaign, Zaka (Disaster Victims Identification) founder Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, what happened in the Jerusalem elections might be a sign of a more serious problem. "For years, Meir Porush managed to unite all the different hassidic sects and get them together with the Lithuanian haredim. That's how the haredim became so powerful. Now, thanks to the Ger hassidim, it's all crumbling. I foresee that at the general elections in February, there will be more than one haredi party, and that means the end of our power." But there's more. Shas supporters made a daring move away from their haredi Ashkenazi mentors and sent a significant message to Barkat: "Talk to us; we're ready." The answer from Barkat's headquarters was clear: "Let's talk." Meanwhile, the religious Zionists, who went to bed feeling like a large family, woke up as a single-parent family. No. 2 on the list, Yair Gabbai, defected to Likud, reducing the National Union-National Religious Party from four seats in the previous city council to two. Nevertheless, its leader, David Hadari, has been offered the Finance Committee. Meir Turgeman, who won one seat, has announced his intention of "leading a strong opposition to Barkat" and declared that his goal will be to head the Comptroller's Committee. For Meretz, things look smooth. It and Barkat's team agree that an agreement is imminent. Leader Pepe Allalu's first task will be to get used to his new position of deputy mayor. He will head an enlarged Department of Arts and Culture, with a much larger budget. Inside Barkat's party, Jerusalem Shall Succeed, the decision has been made to split the Construction and Planning Committee in two: a green planning committee headed by Naomi Tsur, and a construction and housing committee headed by Kobi Kahlon, No. 2 on Barkat's list. Another new portfolio created is east Jerusalem affairs, headed by Yakir Segev from Barkat's party, whose acquaintance with right-wing activists is known, as well as his honest approach. As for the education portfolio, Barkat will keep it in his own hands. Rumor has it that he is not ready to rely on anyone else for what he considers the most crucial issue in his plans for the city. The first city council meeting of this term is scheduled for December 4. See you all there!