What was behind Sari Nusseibeh's proclamation that he might run for mayor?

Sari Nusseibeh 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Sari Nusseibeh 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
While we're all busy debating whose chances are better for the mayoral candidacy - the haredi candidate, MK Meir Porush of United Torah Judaism, or Jerusalem opposition leader Nir Barkat (not to mention the still uncleara candidacy of oligarch Arkadi Gaydamak) - a new and unexpected candidate may have been added to the mix: Sari Nusseibeh. The Al Quds University president recently announced in an interview to Akiva Eldar of Ha'aretz that since reaching the conclusion that the two-state solution was no longer relevant, he was considering running for mayor of Jerusalem. "The highly respected president of Al Quds University - and cosignatory of 'The People's Choice,' a peace plan that he formulated with former Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] chief Ami Ayalon - told me he wouldn't be surprised if one of the Palestinian residents of the city ran for mayor in the municipal elections in November on behalf of all Palestinians in the occupied territories," wrote Eldar on August 16. "To the question: 'Why don't you do it?' the 59-year-old professor of Islamic philosophy, who briefly replaced Faisal Husseini a few years ago as the top Palestinian official in east Jerusalem, answered: 'It's possible. Anything is possible.'" So where does that leave us? With a surreal coalition between a secular Fatah Palestinian and Meretz, a party that campaigned for a partition of the city with two capitals for two states? Or perhaps an impossible dream of realpolitik between Deputy Mayor Yehoshua Pollack and Arab residents of the city, backed by either one of the green lists? And Barkat? Would he stay for another term in that case and work under an Arab mayor?, Feeling a bit light-headed by the possibilities? Fret not, though published by a well-known journalist in a serious newspaper, the remark is probably nothing more than a fleeting expression of despair from the eastern side of the city. The thrill of the possibility, however, certainly makes the Porush, Barkat or Gaydamak alternatives suddenly sound so dull! But back to reality. Remember the big rally planned by Deputy Mayor Eli Simhayof (Shas) at a cost of NIS 550,000 to the municipal culture budget? City attorney Yossi Havilio issued a veto against the event, arguing that the rally sounded more like a political gathering on the taxpayers' account than a Sephardi cultural program. Well, Simhayof has since briefly postponed the rally, pushing it closer to the elections - and riling an already nervous Havilio. If that weren't enough, Simhayof has asked for an opposing legal opinion from a private attorney, Gilad Barnea, who not so long ago was himself a city councilor on the late Ornan Yekutieli's list. Barnea's speciality in those days was to override various initiatives by haredi city councilors - Simhayof included - like approving budgets for special haredi programs. On second thought, maybe our local political scene is not so dull after all.