Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai has held many prominent positions in his long career – IDF Spokesman, Army Radio Commander, chairman of Channel 2 News, director-general of the Jewish Federations of North America, and more – but now, he’s reaching for another title: Mayor of Jerusalem.
Shai has decided to run for mayor in November, and has asked the Labor Party for its backing, he told The Jerusalem Post Monday.
Mayor of Jerusalem is “one of the most fascinating and important jobs in Israel from every aspect. Jerusalem is a microcosm of the Israel-Palestinian conflict,” he stated.
“I believe we need to promote Jerusalem, and there are so many things to do,” Shai said, while en route to the opening of the US Embassy in the capital. “It’s one city that brings together so many groups and religions.
I’m very connected to this special city that symbolizes so much.”
According to Shai, the city has “deteriorated in every parameter,” a trend that must be reversed.
“The city is getting poorer. Its population is the poorest in the country. Thousands of Jewish Israelis are leaving the city, the Jewish-Arab proportion is changing, and in 20 years we’ll have an Arab majority. This is a very dangerous situation for Israel’s capital,” he said.
Shai does not support dividing Jerusalem, saying he thinks there will be “an arrangement” to share the city, and “division is not relevant.”
As for the idea to separate Palestinian villages from Jerusalem, which has grown popular in the center and left, Shai said: “It won’t happen. There’s resistance from all sides. It’s just a waste of political energy. We need to close the gaps between east and west Jerusalem; that’s the way.”
Shai called the US Embassy’s move to Jerusalem “one of the most important days in Israel’s history,” akin to former US president Harry Truman’s decision to recognize the incipient State of Israel.
“I’m grateful to [US President Donald] Trump. When America puts its weight behind something, other countries join it. Not immediately, but they will,” he said. “There are many advantages and great significance to this matter. I’m sure that in the end, it’ll strengthen Israel’s and Jerusalem’s standing.”
Shai gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu credit for his efforts in the matter, which proved fruitful.
Asked whether a candidate from a left-wing party is a long shot in Jerusalem, Shai responded: “I’m not a candidate from the left.”
The MK said he plans to put together an “apolitical” list for city council, with representatives from all the major population groups in Jerusalem, but he needs Labor’s infrastructure, funding and activists to stand behind him.
Shai also said he has held dozens of meetings with haredi (ultra-Orthodox) representatives to try to get their support.
Shai, a Jerusalem native, plans to move his official address to the capital from the adjacent suburb Mevaseret Zion.