Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Wednesday night slammed Shas politicians for releasing a statement that the party's rabbis support his opponent, Moshe Leon, as mayor in the upcoming municipal elections – two days after the passing of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef z”tl.
Speaking on Channel One, Barkat said “I think it is worthy to honor the memory of the Rabbi by avoiding things like this right now. We postponed a number of events scheduled while the seven day shiva mourning period is going on. Others have apparently chosen a different path. I think they need to examine their consciences.”
Barkat specifically criticized Shas chairman Aryeh Deri and Yisrael Beiteinu head Avigdor Lieberman for their support of Leon. “Things are currently good in Jerusalem and we want them to remain good for the coming five years. They just don't understand this,” he said.
In the past, Deri and Lieberman have been bitter political rivals, and their alliance in promoting Leon seems odd, Barkat said. Leon is chairman of the Jerusalem Development Authority and has been close to hareidi leaders for years. As to why Lieberman is involved, Barkat said that the Yisrael Beiteinu head had pressured him to appoint a political ally to run the JDA, but Barkat refused because the candidate was unsuitable.
“I am committed to doing what is good for Jerusalem,” Barkat said. “Lieberman is just trying to take revenge against me.”