New faces on the city council

Who will be representing Jerusalem residents as of this week?

The first hint that change was afoot was the seating order - or, shall we say, disorder. The former head of the finance committee, powerful (Shas) deputy mayor Eli Simhayof, had to stand during the entire packed changing-of-the guard ceremony between outgoing mayor Uri Lupolianski and Mayor Nir Barkat, which took place last week. Simhayof was not the only one who all of a sudden didn't have a place of his own in the City Hall auditorium. Neither did former deputy mayors Shlomi Attias and Yehoshua Pollack - who had a hard time even finding a seat in the back rows of the employees. Simhayof seemed relatively calm - perhaps because he already knew what became public knowledge a few hours later: a new career was beginning for him as director-general of the Beitar Illit municipality, where he would become Pollack's boss, who serves there as treasurer! Shortly after came the official announcement of Meir Porush's resignation from United Torah Judaism, the party he failed to bring to power. "The thing that will characterize the haredi Ashkenazi party in Barkat's era the most will be an all-out internal war among its eight members," explained a haredi source at Kikar Safra. "Once Porush and Pollack are out, the only serious person left there is Yossi Daitch; but because he is so identified with Porush, he has no chance of becoming the leader of the party. They are eight people, who will fight for eight different interests. Their only chance is that Barkat, who is a novice in politics, won't catch on too quickly." So who are the new faces representing Jerusalem residents as of this week? In Barkat's party, of the six members, including the boss, four are newcomers: Deputy Mayor Kobi Kahlon, head of planning and construction; Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur, head of planning, environment and preservation; Yakir Segev, in charge of east Jerusalem and students; and Hillik Bar, representative of the young leadership in the Labor Party, in charge of tourism (which makes him the man whose job it will be to prepare the accommodations for the 10 million tourists that Barkat is planning to attract to the city). While Tsur is quite well known due to her years of activity in ecology and environmental affairs, Segev, a former paratrooper, is a little less known. Segev headed the New Spirit organization created by Barkat and stood behind the initiative to bring Israelis closer to the Judea-Samaria historical landscape. The only political veteran, Rami Levy, will be in charge of the human resources and, most importantly, will serve as head of the coalition. In the Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party, there are two changes: the departure of the former leader, Shmuel Shkedi, and the replacement of city councillor Mina Fenton by Edna Friedman (including the portfolio of Jewish heritage and the committee on the status of women) - due to the fact that the third place is reserved for women. In between, Yair Gabbay will represent the municipality at the National Planning Committee of the Interior Ministry. The new leader, Deputy Mayor David Hadari, an old friend of Kahlon, will head the Finance Committee. Hadari, until now head of the Emunah colleges network, has already announced he will quit so that he can devote himself completely to Kikar Safra affairs. In Meretz there is a mixture of new and old: Pepe Allalu, now deputy mayor, is in charge of culture. Meir Margalit, a city council member under Ehud Olmert, will take care of residents' rights, foreign workers and local courts. The newcomer to Meretz, Laura Warton, will be in charge of public health, senior residents and the disabled. In the Wake Up Jerusalemites party, there are brand-new members: Ofer Berkovitch is in charge of the young generation - youth movements, the children's welfare committee and youth at-risk. His colleague, Rachel Azaria-Fraenkel, will be in charge of the neighborhood administrations and early child care. Other newcomers are the two city councillors from Yerushalayim Beiteinu - Masha Novikov, deputy mayor and in charge of olim and tourism from the FSU. Her colleague, Didi Hershkovitch, will be in charge of public buildings. Yael Entebi, who arrived at Kikar Safra on the wings of the traffic nightmares in Pisgat Ze'ev, will have to prove she knows what she's complaining about - she will be in charge of the traffic and parking portfolio. The coalition closes with a one-man party for the Likud - Elisha Peleg, a city council member in the time of Teddy Kollek, who will be in charge of sports, emergency and firefighters. After a few days of hesitation, the United Torah Judaism Party finally joined the coalition, with only one deputy mayor at this stage. The tension between the party members is such that for the moment, it is not even clear who will receive the NIS 42,000 salary. Still out of the coalition for the moment: Shas and Meir Turgeman, another one-man party. The two are left to fight it out over the leadership of the prestigious Comptroller's Committee, the only portfolio belonging to the opposition.