What will happen in the next election marathon in Jerusalem?

Last Friday, Mayor Moshe Lion and City Council Opposition Chief Ofer Berkovitch (Hitorerut) participated in the Jerusalem Marathon.

No one expected either of them to break a record, but their participation certainly added to the sense of popular celebration that enveloped the marathon. By the way, or not, the two did not meet at any point in their careers; I guess they were very careful not to.

Three years have passed since Berkovitch, a 35-year-old Jerusalem-born candidate at the time, lacked just 2,900 votes to become the youngest mayor of the Holy City.

The bad blood between the two is still here, poisoning the atmosphere.

Now that three years have passed since the last elections, Jerusalem is at a sort of starting point heading into the 2023 elections. Although both sides are quite low-key on the issue, there is talk that both are revving their engines behind scene. Both face challenges, both sides are aware of the difficulties and complexities that this city has, however, the circumstances, the challenges and the way these two are and will work are quite different.

Lion understands that he cannot afford to end the campaign again without representatives from his own list on the city council. While the law does not prevent it, this is not a situation that he can afford politically, not once again. Therefore, Lion’s first goal will be to build a roster attractive enough to attract the votes of enough Jerusalem residents, that if he is re-elected, he will not be as dependent on coalition members as he is now. A prominent figure in Local Council circles said earlier this week that “Lion has been working with his hands tied and had to, most of the time, literally walk on eggshells between his haredi partners on one side and his Liberal partners on the other. “

The last thing Lion wants is to be considered a mayor in the hands of the haredim. However, to some extent, you need to take them into account, as they occupy 17 of the 31 council seats, and the number of seats far exceeds their actual presence in the city’s Jewish population.

As for Berkovitch, he faces a very different problem, since life in the opposition is not an easy task.

Unlike the Knesset, members of the city council who are not deputy mayors do not receive a salary; Although they must dedicate a lot of time and attention, everything is not remunerated.

IN ADDITION, YOUR ability to make decisions contrary to the mayor’s position is close to nil, further blunting the appeal of being in opposition, contributing to the fact that quite a few prominent members have retired.

NOW-MAYOR Moshe Lion campaigns in the shuk for the 2018 race. (Credit: YONATAN SINDEL / FLASH90)

Officially, that was the deal from the start: Berkovitch, mindful of the burden of serving the public as a volunteer, established an agreement from the outset that apart from him, all Hitorerut members would only serve a half-term (two and a half years ) and let those lower down the list enter by rotating between them.

However, that arrangement recently caused him great embarrassment, when verbal confrontations between the members broke records four months ago. Councilman Avishai Cohen has almost become a leper and last week officially left the list, asking the mayor to keep him on committees. Before that, Yamit Yoeli-Ella, former CEO of Hitorerut and now a list member on the city council, simply refused to rotate and obtained Lion’s permission to continue serving on some committees, against the will of Berkovitch. Officially, Hitorerut’s response is that they will treat those who harm the movement harshly, but clearly, something bad is happening within the largest pluralistic list that has ever existed in the city hall.

Cohen and Yoeli-Ela have not become part of Lion’s coalition: the law does not allow it, as together they do not comprise a third of his original list. In fact, they both hang a bit in the air and have not obtained any compromises regarding their political future. While Lion scored a sardonic victory over his opponent by abandoning both of them, they are far from the political assets he needs to form his next roster. With all due respect to their sincere willingness to serve the Jerusalem residents on the council, they do not represent an attractive “dowry” for the aspiring incumbent.

So who will be on Lion’s next list? The first names will be those who worked for him three years ago and then were on his list. Yet these are exactly the people who did not “turn over the goods” as, despite their efforts, they failed to win a single council seat for Lion, leaving him as the first mayor of Jerusalem without any supporting garrison. .

And who will be on the next Hitorerut list? For now, Berkovitch is in the sand, preparing for the next round. But who will follow him in two years? The old guard who dreamed, worked and made his way to his side with the vision of a list of young Jerusalem people who will fight for this city is no longer so available. Many, while remaining true to that dream, have moved on. Some have turned out to be unreliable.

Berkovitch is adamant about going ahead and running with the same message: Jerusalem is worth fighting and staying here to build a better city, unlike those who packed up and left. And Lion? Will you dare to construct a list that, for a change, represents the true identity of Jerusalem, which includes religious, traditionalists, laity, men and women? Perhaps you could also invite Arabs from the east side to participate? There are only about 730 days left before we find out.


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