Davidi
DavidiFlash 90

Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi explains in an interview that will be published in full tomorrow in the Israel Hayom newspaper his decision to join the Yamina party, even though he has been associated with the Likud throughout the years.

"I read Yamina's economic plan, and it details how to bring the business sector as a force. In a crisis, ordinary things do not work. In the coronavirus crisis it exploded for me, because I see what can be done in local government and you see the total chaos at the national level and disconnection," says Davidi.

"It's not enough just to survive or live through the crisis, you have to provide hope, think seven steps ahead, to after the crisis. I tell you, I'll be there for it. Commitment to the people is something I go with; you don't just say, 'revolution in Sderot.' It's not me, it's us," he adds.

Davidi runs a city in which more than 50 percent of the vote was for the ruling party. His joining Yamina raised many eyebrows.

In the preliminary talks with Sderot residents ahead of the interview conducted with him, Davidi's opponents also admit that his seven years are some of the best the city has known.

Sderot is thriving and growing in height, and a ride with Davidi along the main street sounds like a YouTube ad: "Here's the new resilience center," "Here's a new park," "Here's a new school."

"Before COVID-19 we were in excellent shape - five to six percent unemployment, and suddenly we grew to 17 percent. I could say 'this isn't my problem, employment is the government, not the municipality,' but in coronavirus there were also budgets that we didn't spend. We published a call to hi-tech companies' training departments and said 'teach them something fast, and most importantly - it will lead to placement at work, just focus on placement.' When people go into a crisis you have to help them immediately, but a minute later you also have to think about what they will do next," notes Davidi.

During the tour, he is joined by Ofir Libstein, head of the Sha'ar Hanegev Council from Kfar Aza, and the two talk about their joint plans for the future. Among other things, Davidi talks about "a train that will be a land port. Every day 10,000 people will enter from Gaza. Do you know what millions of shekels of salaries will do for Gaza?"

"Our role as leadership is to allow and give opportunities. If we don't succeed, it is something else. I don't understand Hamas, they're sitting on the ground and doing nothing for their people. The importance of such an area is not to Gaza, but to us on this side of the fence."

Ofir Libstein adds, "This isn't science fiction, it's very advanced. In general, Davidi's worldview does not come from whining and misery but from a position of power and strength, very much connecting to the whole perception of the kibbutzim here. It is to show the strengths of the region, it is what gave the big boost to Sderot, and if Davidi can bring it to the national level, it will be a huge force for change."