Defying Bennett, J-lem's Jewish Home branch endorses Moshe Lion

Disobeying party leader Naftali Bennett, Jerusalem's Jewish Home branch supports Lion and not Zeev Elkin. 'Bennett is making a mistake.'

Tzvi Lev,

Moshe Lion
Moshe Lion
Photo: PR

The Jerusalem branch of the Jewish Home party announced that it would support Moshe Lion in the capital's mayoral race, defying party leader Naftali Bennett who has endorsed Jerusalem Affairs Minister MK Zeev Elkin (Likud) for the job.

Moshe Lion has been trailing fellow challengers Elkin and Ofer Berkovitch in Jerusalem's mayoral race. Haredi candidate Yossi Deitch and little-known Avi Salman are also contending for the capital's top job.

According to the Ynet report, Jerusalem's Jewish Home branch will run ads in Friday's weekend newspapers supporting Lion. A senior Jewish Home source told Ynet that they could not support Elkin due to his plan to transfer the capital's Arab neighborhoods to a separate municipality.

Jerusalem's Jewish Home faction feels that Elkin's plan is akin to splitting Jerusalem, an idea that has long been anathema to the right.

"As voters for the Jewish home, we can not support anyone who wants to remove the Arab neighborhoods from the protection of Jerusalem and to transfer them to a municipal authority... Bennett has no influence in Jerusalem," said the source.

Jerusalem's Jewish Home faction has had an increasingly rocky relationship with its national leadership. In August, Bennett threatened to stop funding the local Jerusalem branch after it ran an anti-haredi campaign.

As part of the effort, Jerusalem's Jewish Home had been distributing posters featuring leading mayoral candidates Moshe Lion, MK Zeev Elkin and Ofer Berkowitz dressed like haredim in long sidelocks under the caption "only the Jewish Home will stop Jerusalem's haredi influence".

Leaders of the Jewish Home's Jerusalem branch added in an interview that portraying the candidates as haredi pawns is important in advancing the interests of the city. Haredim make up 40% of Jerusalem, making it almost impossible to win city-wide elections without their support.

"The Jewish Home strongly condemns the campaign published this morning by the party's branch in the municipal elections in Jerusalem," tweeted Bennett. "The campaign was not carried out by the party's national leadership, and does not represent its position regarding the haredi public."