Netanyahu formally endorses Elkin for Jerusalem mayor

Three months after he begged Benjamin Netanyahu to endorse him in the October 30 Jerusalem mayoral race, Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin finally received the Prime Minister’s critical endorsement Sunday.

Elkin decided to run anyway, even though running without Netanyahu’s backing meant his campaign would not be funded by the Likud’s coffers. The endorsement was shown by video at a holiday toast hosted by Elkin at a wedding hall in the capital’s Talpiot neighborhood attended by some 1,500 people of varied backgrounds.

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“I know Ze’ev and his abilities, and what he has done and will do for Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said.

Elkin thanked Netanyahu for helping his campaign and said the prime minister usually does not go as far as he did for him in a municipal race.

Elkin was also endorsed at the event by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Likud ministers Israel Katz, Haim Katz and Yuval Steinitz, outgoing mayor Nir Barkat, and former Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky.

“I want Elkin to be mayor of this city, because he can speak to the world, can clear the garbage and as a religious Zionist from the former Soviet Union, he can connect the different sectors of the city.”

Elkin himself said uniting the people of the city was key to leading it, and the people in the crowd were that connection.
“I won’t let Jerusalem deteriorate into a religious war,” Elkin said.

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Earlier Sunday, city council member Ofer Berkovitch’s Hitorerut party received a boost when former city attorney Yossi Havilio dropped out of the race and endorsed Berkowitz. Havilio said he made the move to ensure that Jerusalem will have a “Zionist and statesmanlike” mayor, meaning one who is not ultra-Orthodox (haredi).

Deputy mayor Yossi Daitch of United Torah Judaism has not yet decided whether to run, because he has not yet succeeded in behind him. The final day to officially enter the race is September 27.

Berkovitch praised Havilio for “displaying responsibility,” and called upon Elkin to quit the race as well.

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