Shas is holding back its endorsement of Deputy Mayor Moshe Lion for mayor of Jerusalem until United Torah Judaism decides to back him as well, Shas leader Arye Deri said Tuesday at the opening of his party’s campaign headquarters in the capital’s Givat Shaul neighborhood.
Deri did not mention Lion in his speech, but when activists and reporters shouted at him, his response made it clear that he was referring to Lion.
“We want the candidate backed by the Haredi [ultra-Orthodox] sector to win,” Deri told the crowd, which was exclusively male and Haredi. “When we reach the conclusion that this will happen, everyone will know who he is. We want to build as much support as possible for this candidate. We cannot let a city like Jerusalem with such a large and varied Haredi population support a candidate who will not win.”
Sources close to Deri said the latter portion of his remarks was aimed at Deputy Mayor Yossi Daitch who, although having received an endorsement from UTJ’s Agudat Yisrael Party, would lose a run-off race to any other leading candidate in the October 30 election. Daitch is not expected to run if Shas does not endorse him.
“I will disappoint you by holding back on revealing our candidate for mayor,” Deri said. It will come in its time. If it was simple, we would have announced it long ago.”
Deri vowed that Shas, under the leadership of Deputy Mayor Tzvika Cohen, would become the largest faction in the Jerusalem City council.
The Likud held its own city council campaign- launching ceremony at its party branch headquarters in downtown Jerusalem Monday night. The event was attended by many ministers and MKs. While all expressed support for the party’s list for the city council, they were divided over whether to endorse the mayoral candidacy of Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who is running independently of his party.
Meanwhile, in the Tel Aviv mayoral race, Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay told Army Radio he would back incumbent Ron Huldai of his party for a fifth term, even though he backs legislation that would limit mayors to three terms.
“We will not hurt ourselves by acting according to the bill if it has not passed yet,” Gabbay said.
In the Beit Shemesh election, which pits Haredi incumbent Moshe Abutbol against educator Aliza Bloch, a Gal Hadash poll of 400 residents sponsored by Bloch found that she could win. The poll predicted 46% for Bloch and 45% for Abutbol. The poll found that 20% of Haredim would vote for Bloch.