Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze'ev Elkin's candidacy for mayor received a boost on Tuesday when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu officially endorsed him.
Netanyahu initially refused to endorse Elkin, which made him reconsider whether to run for mayor. Elkin had said that he needed funding from the Likud to run.
Elkin decided to run anyway, going as far as to run under the banner of current Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat’s Jerusalem Will Succeed Party in order to receive funding.
But Netanyahu changed his mind and decided to support Elkin’s candidacy.
“As a Knesset member, a minister and especially as Jerusalem Affairs Minister, Elkin has taken plenty of action to help our capital,” Netanyahu said. “He has proven that the city is close to his heart and precious to him. I wish him the best of luck.”
A source close to Netanyahu said “he had been undecided for a while and was never against [Elkin’s candidacy].”
Elkin thanked Netanyahu for the endorsement, saying that he has enjoyed working with the prime minister for years and that he was looking forward to continue working with him as mayor.
Last week, the head of the Union of Local Authorities, Modi’in Mayor Haim Bibas, canceled an election for the party’s candidate for mayor in the Jerusalem branch of Likud after the branch refused to support Elkin.
Deputy mayor Moshe Lion is also a Likud member. The other candidates in the race are MK Rachel Azaria (Kulanu), Hitorerut faction head and former deputy mayor Ofer Berkovich, haredi city councilman Chaim Epstein (Jerusalem Faction) and lawyers Yossi Havilio and Avi Salman.