Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat
Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox factions launch search for secular person to compete against Mayor Nir Barkat in next elections. Hottest name: Prof. Avi Rivkind, head of Hadassah Medical Center's Trauma Unit
The Jerusalem mayoral elections will only be held in about two years, but the capital's ultra-Orthodox factions are already looking for a candidate to compete against current Mayor Nir Barkat.
Ynet's local portal, Mynet, has learned that United Torah Judaism is searching for a secular rather than religious candidate to run on its behalf.
After losing the previous mayoral elections, in which UTJ was represented by former Knesset Member Meir Porush, the faction members realized that in order to gain more portfolios they must join forces with the winning candidate.
According to a party source, a secular candidate has a better chance of winning the elections, as secular and moderate religious Jews prefer not to vote for a haredi candidate. "We lost the previous elections because seculars wouldn't vote for us," the source said.
About two months ago, UTJ representatives held talks with Prof. Jonathan Halevy, director-general of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center and a moderate religious Jew. Halevy denied the report at the time, claiming: "No one spoke to me."
This week, a new name has been raised by the faction members: Prof. Avi Rivkind, head of the Department of General Surgery and Trauma Unit at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center. UTJ is interested in Rivkind due to his affinity to the haredi public, alongside his popularity among all of the city's residents.
Prof. Rivkind was surprised to hear that his name was mentioned as a possible mayoral candidate. "No such thing happened. I have not been approached by anyone and I have nothing to add."
It appears that Shas is not ruling out a secular candidate either. According to the faction chairman, Deputy Mayor Eli Simhayoff, "We never promised that our candidate would have a beard."