Corridors: Show me yours, I'll show you mine

Who will be the next mayor of Jerusalem?

lupolianski 224.88  (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
lupolianski 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Our sages taught us that when two people struggle over a tallit, only the one who dares not to accept any compromise proves his rights and earns that property. But as we all know, the Jewish genius improves on everything, even itself, here we are today, thousands of years from that Talmudic issue, and we are facing the same situation. Only this time, there are three people involved. And they're not struggling over a tallit. This time, it's the position of Mayor of Jerusalem that's at stake. True, since we're in the middle of a general election campaign and the municipal elections are still two and a half years away, this declaration needs some explanation. Until some three years ago, the current acting Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, was Mayor of Jerusalem. Olmert was still a prominent member of the Likud and was elected to his position as mayor on an independent, personal list allied with the Likud. When Olmert left the municipality for the national government, his deputy, Yigal Amedi, was sure that he would going to slip naturally and gracefully into his boss' shoes. Officially, Olmert did what he could to ensure Amedi's position. But then the haredim became a bit more daring and presented Uri Lupolianski as their candidate. And the rest is history. Today, Olmert is once again in a position to help Amedi make his dream come true and move into the largest office on the sixth floor of Safra Square. But Olmert has left the Likud (where his prospects were slim) to join Kadima (where he's become acting Prime Minister.) And Amedi is still in the Likud, not very popular and looking for the opportunity secure his future. In bursts the new guy on the block, Nir Barkat, who, as we reported last week, has been discreetly allying himself with the Likud and with Olmert, and, poof! he's head of the Kadima headquarters here in Jerusalem. Maybe it's only a coincidence that it was at this crucial electoral time that Amedi took off a few days. At least two members of Barkat's party may follow him. The other three are outraged: one of them because he failed to land the same job, and the other two because they are not sure that they want to be so identified with a national political party. So even after loud discussions, rude exchanges, and veiled and unveiled threats, Barkat's party is still not in Kadima's pocket - at least not yet. Meanwhile, some of the advisors surrounding Lupoliansky are trying to shuffle the deck of cards differently and seduce the remaining members of Barkat's party to join the coalition as an independent list ... ...or, to join Amedi and the Likud in the city council. Are you confused? Are you convinced that the story ends here? Well, it doesn't. You see, as Barkat has made clear, lining up with a political party today is a great way to jockey into position for the mayoral race in 2008. And the future candidates are already competing in the game of "Get Olmert's Support for the Job of Mayor." Earlier this week, the third name made its appearance on the horizon: Uri Shetrit. You all remember him, the city engineer who, even after he resigned, maintained that he did not have any political aspirations. Of course, over here in the Corridors of Power, we were a bit suspicious. It turns out that we were right. By renouncing to the a-political status he had maintained until now, Barkat might lose many votes. Since he didn't received any commitment from Olmert regarding the municipal race, he might pay a high price for making his political affair public. Amedi, waffling between Likud and Kadima, might wind up in neither. But Shetrit, on the other hand. He's taking the whole tallit. He is on the 48th place on Kadima's list. Of course, that's not a realistic slot, and we probably won't see him in the Knesset this year. But in exchange for his fidelity, Shetrit is the only once who has Olmert's support for a mayoral bid. It was Olmert who brought Shetrit to the municipality. It was Olmert who helped him negotiate a contract that allowed him to continue his private work as an architect and planner, even while he was city engineer. Olmert promised and Olmert delivered the goods. That was when he was mayor. Next time he'll be in an even better position to help his friend - he'll probably be Prime Minister. Before we end, we should mention two other interesting names: Olmert's people are actively courting Yoram Karshi, a born and bred Likudnik. Karshi was offered the 39th place on the Kadima slot and turned it down. Karshi just happens to be Shula Zaken's brother. Zaken has been Olmert's closest assistant and confident for more than 25 years and has moved into the Prime Minister's position with him. So we're predicting that Karshi will come "home" to the family sooner or later.