The Ultimate and Complete Guide to Elections in Jerusalem


The Ultimate and Complete Guide to Elections in Jerusalem

30% of the city's residents have yet to decide who to vote for!
Zevik Aviner, founder of the Yerushalmim and Yerushalmiot Facebook group and one of Jerusalem's most influential social media superstars, has written a series of short chapter posts to help us make a wise choice. This post was translated from his original Hebrew with permission. 

Chapter 1 - Introduction

In order for us to make a good choice, and not vote based on who is more funny or beautiful, we will conduct an in-depth analysis and review of language so that each and every one of you can choose who is right for them.

The most challenging and fascinating issue facing me in recent months has been the difficulty in picking the chaff from the hay and the main things from the fluff, and choosing a person who will lead Jerusalem and its residents to a better place in the short and long term.

Experience, skill, agendas, and action- all these were foremost in my eyes, and my heart did not allow my personal inclinations to affect the listening and analysis I had done to all the candidates, and the hundreds of posts I had read.

This is a very difficult challenge because of the human tendency to choose the strongest, the beautiful, the eloquent and other dazzling phenomena - intuitive rather than conscious.

It's easy to understand if we imagine the candidates with other faces for a moment, with a different stance and a different style of speech ...
But in order to lead the conflicted, complex, economically collapsing Jerusalem, suffocating with parking, traffic jams and tickets, it is important to examine things with a serious perspective.

Chapter 2 - The municipality!

Before we dive into the candidates' analysis, I will give you a brief overview of how the municipality vote works:

At the same time as the mayor is chosen, we choose a different voting slip, with the lists from which the members of the municipal council will be formed. (The Jerusalem City Council has 31 members, including the mayor).

The mayor will have to form a coalition, and in order to get the majority consent needed for his decisions, he will form a majority coalition out of the city council.

Senior members of the coalition lists are usually appointed to their deputies, holding different portfolios, and together they form the "municipal administration." In addition, several members of the council are "portfolio holders" who are not deputy mayor.

All the members of the Council, the coalition, and the opposition are members of various committees according to a faction key (the larger a faction, the more members of the committee must be appointed).
There are committees that are territories with two of them matching between the portfolio holder in the coalition and the committee (planning, construction and finance). Besides, members of the coalition council, according to a coalition agreement, are headed by other committees.
Moreover, coalition members are entitled to set up a committee that deals with their portfolios (most of these committees are an authority - for example, culture, education, etc.)

FYI: Council members who are not deputies do not receive a salary!

# If so, the various lists are very important in order to balance and criticize the power of the mayor, and therefore I would recommend choosing not necessarily identical lists for the candidate you vote for.

Chapter 3  - Jerusalem!

In order to choose a mayor, we should know what his tasks and challenges are and what he will stand for after he is elected.

So what is the story of Jerusalem and the residents of Jerusalem today? What do you need to fix?
We'll divide it in two:
1. What we feel daily, such as cleanliness, traffic jams, parking, public transportation and more.
2. What indirectly affects both the character and the economy: young people! We want young people to stay, live and work in the city, and leaving young people is very problematic. Why leave? Because housing mainly, but also for family reasons and employment.
And why actually there is no housing? "Freezing", interests? In practice, for about 20 years, no new neighborhood has been built in Jerusalem. And it is worth knowing that this is one of the main "causes" of the problematic friction between the different sectors.

Another thing that is important to know: Jerusalem is in a severe economic deficit, caused by a lack of NIS 700 million each year due to discounts / exemptions on property taxes.

Wait a minute, look at the tiny: Municipality expenses: 5.5 billion shekels a year.
Until recently, there was a grant from the state of about NIS 250 million a year.
In 2006, Barkat succeeded in increasing it to 500 million
Remember the big garbage strike and the threat of firing a thousand municipal employees? Then the grant rose to 700 million + 87 million for the development of the city.

Over the years, Barkat has increased the amount received from the government on the basis of a unique budget item that does not exist in any other city except in Jerusalem. In the past three years, this has been accompanied by a struggle (against the Finance Ministry), which claims to have political elements in the face of Nir Barkat's national aspirations.

In sum, one of the important goals of a mayor who wants a more prosperous city, more beautiful and more economic, is to increase the city's income. how? Economic development, encouraging business growth, leaving young people and bringing in large companies that will bring business income up to 8 times the rate of private property.

Chapter # 4 - Political Contamination and Promises!

We'll start analyzing our candidates and see what interests each person brings.
It turns out that not only the city needs cleanliness, but also propaganda.

Dirty Politics?
Forget about them. I learned them, I read quite a bit, I spoke with the candidates, and as usual, there are two sides to everything.
My impression is that they are all good people in a big way (apart from their slander or their supporters)
Are unfavorable acts done in the past an estimate of future wrongs, and are those who arrive free of hands free of future fall?
Reality shows that this is not so ...
And yet I wish the leaders could stand up and say: We have done things that were not worthy in the past, we fell and learned and we regret it. (Because we all know that they also acted in inappropriate ways ...)

Recommendation: Forget about them. Everyone promises to clean, cook, build, and care for everyone as if they are at least the Pope.
Some also wrote a platform and a vision that makes us feel for a moment that the Messiah is coming right away.
But what can they actually do? What will they succeed?
Let's face it. No one here can and does not want to analyze the municipal budget, the schedule and the feasibility of the various promises and plans, including the budgets that we can or will not receive from government ministries.

What about the platforms?
Are they important or not? I'll leave that for you to decide. In the meantime, you are invited to view the candidates' platforms / promises / election propaganda.
80% of the promises made by politicians around the world do not happen...

Ofer Berkowitz (Hitorerut)
Yossi Deitsch

Chapter # 5 - What is required of the mayor?

Just before we address each candidate, we should consider what skills are needed for the mayor of Jerusalem.
Leadership, nobility and pressure.
* Financial management: 9 billion.
* People management: 10,000 employees.
* Conducting with municipal companies and community administrations.
Working with government agencies.
* Interpersonal abilities.
* Adherence to pressures and emergency situations.

In fact, this is a huge Israeli company with billions of shekels, thousands of workers and responsibility for hundreds of thousands of residents every day.
But we should remember that the mayor has a CEO and a treasurer, consultants, deputies and many other professionals, so in fact he will have to manage the city wisely, but he does not have to know and understand everything.

What do you expect from the mayor?
To lead the city economically.
To take care of the daily affairs of the city (cleanliness, traffic jams, parking, transportation and more)
To truly care for all residents of the city, regardless of religion, gender, nationality,
To intervene and to deal wisely with conflicts in the mixed neighborhoods.
Willingness to pay prices and not represent its voters, but all the residents equally!

Something small about the Haredi-secular conflict in Jerusalem:
It is important for me to say something very clearly:
Conflicts are possible and exist because there is no one to mediate between the hawks, and even more, often it is about those who have an interest in the conflict will continue!
What do I mean? Many of the conflicts could be solved by simple dialogue (!!!).

Thus, for example, the station compound story:
These are residents (not "ultra-Orthodox") who complained of a violation of the terms of use and interruption. And from here a conflict began that the mayor might have prevented, but in the end one "side" pulled in his direction, and the other side in the other direction, instead of sitting together and producing a proper solution. Who benefits from these wars? For your judgment ...
The station complex - the real story

The same is true of the conflict in Kiryat Hayovel: a neighborhood that is "ultra-Orthodox" with seemingly complex conflicts!
That two weeks ago, after the "secular" party dared to meet Yossi Deitch, the ultra-Orthodox, they realized the magnitude of the mistake and the vain battles and regretted not having met Yossi before.

Chapter 6: - The Candidates, Short Biography:

Who to Vote For?

Will candidate differences in political agenda or religious affiliation affect city management? How will they actually cope with pressures and conflicts? Here are bios, pros, and cons of each candidate.


MOSHE LEON (Platform)

Married, father of 4 and grandfather of 7, lives in Jerusalem's Rehavia neighborhood for the past 5 years. He moved to the city five years ago to run for mayor. While he lost to Barkat, he remained, holding the city’s Community Administrative portfolio.

In his public past, Leon served as Director-General of the Prime Minister's Office in the first Netanyahu government, chairman of the Jerusalem Development Authority for six years, and as chairman of the Israel Railways.

In his past business, Leon founded the accounting firm Leon Orlitzky, which is now ranked in the top ten in Israel and has about 300 members. Wikipedia entry

Election Assessment

Main supporters:
Degel Hatorah (the Lithuanian stream of ultra-Orthodox Judaism), Shas (Sephardi ultra-Orthodox/traditional), national religious, traditional and secular in several neighborhoods in the city.


Vast management and administration experience.  Moshe Leon is a leader who has served in high-level managerial positions throughout his life (see bio).


Since a large portion of his voters will likely be rabbi-instructed, one wonders if his post-election focus will be tainted in their favor. We are talking about President of the Council of Torah Sages of the Shas Party, Hagar Cohen (Deri), and Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a prominent spiritual leader in the ultra-Orthodox Degel Hatorah party. Gafni)

More info: Leon, who was suspected of committing public corruption and integrity offenses, as well as tax offenses, however, the police investigation two months ago concluded there was no basis for the accusations.

ZE’EV ELKIN (Platform)


Served as Deputy Foreign Minister. A member of the Political-Security Cabinet and a member of the Knesset on behalf of the Likud party. Former Minister of Immigration and Absorption, chairman of the Likud faction, chairman of the House Committee, chairman of the coalition, and chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, Heritage and Environmental Protection. A candidate for mayor of Jerusalem for the Yerushalayim Tatzliach ("Jerusalem Will Succeed”) faction, set up by mayor Nir Barkat.

Passed a government decision of $2 billion for the development of East Jerusalem, both infrastructure, tourism and education.

In addition, he transferred the Jubilee plan to 850 million dollars for strategic business development in the city, of which about 100 million aid to businesses affected by the security situation. Wikipedia:

Election Assessment

Main supporters:
Traditional, religious, ultra-Orthodox, agreements with the extremist Jerusalem Faction and perhaps with Gur.


Elkin is undoubtedly very experienced in the corridors of the Knesset and the government. He is knowledgeable and experienced in management and in politics.

He is an excellent strategist with high analytical ability with a short learning-curve.

From a budgetary perspective, if there are no budget disputes on the backs of the Jerusalemites, there may be more money and no strikes.


  1. Elkin is supported by Netanyahu. Since some say that Benjamin Netanyahu is responsible for the construction freeze in the city, the question is whether Elkin could throw off that pressure from, of all people, the Prime Minister.

  2. Elkin knows Jerusalem, but on a large scale.  He does not know the small, everyday Jerusalem -  the different neighborhoods, the different shades and the specific issues of the city.

A note on East Jerusalem: Elkin claimed that as mayor he would not promote the plan for separating Arab neighborhoods beyond what the Separation Wall has done. This is because, morally speaking,  how could it be that a mayor approaches the government, requesting some neighborhoods be removed from a city?




Deitsch is married to Shoshana, a father of six and grandfather of three, a resident of the Geula neighborhood.

He served in the army and reserves for 14 years. (

Deitch holds the Planning and Construction portfolio, a vitally important facet of our city. He was one of the founders of the Har Homa neighborhood of Jerusalem in his previous position in the Housing Ministry.

He took upon himself the project of "Ma'ar" (ultra-Orthodox business center), which is responsible for the rehabilitation and renovation of commercial areas in the neighborhoods of Geula, Bukharan, Kerem Avraham, Romema and the old neighborhoods. In 2018, its budget reached more than NIS 200 million.

Deitsch founded the KEMACH Fund - "Haredi Professional Advancement" - to promote study and employment in the ultra-Orthodox sector, which to date has benefited some 30,000 members of that sector.

Election Assessment

Main supporters:
General Haredi, and specifically Agudath Israel (a Hasidic ultra-Orthodox organization).


Yossi has been working for 12 years in the city council and as deputy mayor. He is very connected to day-to-day Jerusalem, operating at eye-level with the heart of all residents. He always remembers where he came from, understanding the simple distresses and overall needs of the residents. He acts tirelessly and stands behind his word.

His municipality experience is extensive, especially in the field of housing and construction (see bio).

His history in the city council proves he does not sign on disputes between sectors, but rather is a bridge among them. Therefore, it is possible that he will be able to lead to a significant change in secular-Haredi relations. (As an example, despite being Haredi, he supported not closing the First Station on Shabbat, in order to maintain the status quo for that sector.)


Is there a likelihood that Yossi will withdraw his candidacy and transfer support to Elkin?

Despite his positive history, will he really fight equally for secular rights of the city's residents? Will heavy pressures in the form of pashkvilim (extremist protest posters common in some Haredi neighborhoods), harassment and boycotts of extremist ultra-Orthodox factions affect him?

A note on East Jerusalem: Deitsch signed an agreement with Aryeh King which may have significant implications on East Jerusalem residents.



Founder of the Hitorerut (“Awakening”) movement in Jerusalem, and its chairman for the last decade. A member of the city council in 2008-2011 and Deputy Mayor in charge of areas of economic development, culture and city center 2013-2017.

Raised in Jerusalem, Berkovitch is married to Dina and is father to Ariel and Yiftach. He has a BA in Economics and Political Science from the Hebrew University.

He participated in the growth of high-tech and technology companies in Jerusalem, and  promoted the cultural events initiative in the Mahane Yehuda market. He saved the Smadar Cinema and initiated the subsidized summer camps in the kindergartens in August.


Election Assessment
Main supporters: Secular, traditional, national religious.


As Deputy Mayor and a member of the city council, Ofer Berkovitch is well acquainted with Jerusalem and its problems - the people, the diverse populations, the various parts of the city.

His main accomplishment is establishing Hitorerut - a young secular movement that in time became a pluralistic movement which holds a very diverse list. He boasts the impressive ability to bring together hundreds of activists and thousands of supporters, forming and managing a social movement. Historically, there probably has not been a greater local and non-party activist movement in Jerusalem.

Ofer has no political affiliation, which can be positive in that he answers to no one, but also means there are no politicians who are vying for him.

Secular-Haredi Relations: Ofer will not open the city center on Shabbat.


The main allegation against Ofer is that he has zero managerial experience, specifically that he has never managed a significant budget. He also has no experience working with the Knesset.

He has no particular achievements from serving as Deputy Mayor nor as municipal council member.  Barkat claimed that in his last term, Ofer did not have good relations with the professional echelon.


Bio: Chairman of the Bnei Torah party, the people behind the "Jerusalem Faction,” who violently protest the army draft.

Haim ran for mayor in 2013 amid a suspicion of corruption. The media theorized that the reason for his candidacy - despite his scant chances of being elected - was an agreement between him and Nir Barkat to divide the Haredi vote in order to secure Barkat's election. Epstein and Barkat denied the agreement. But it begs the question because even though Epstein’s party won only one municipal mandate, Epstein was appointed deputy mayor and holds portfolios of Torah culture and ultra-Orthodox.


Election assessment: If you are a member of the Jerusalem Faction you will probably vote for him.

In Conclusion

We are privileged to live in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, a capital of complexity with the challenge of peace among factions. So, think big, about Jerusalem as a whole, our residents, our special and complex economic and social situation. Think about who can bring some social and economic peace, and will lead us to a more colorful city. Someone who will see us, the residents - all of us. And remember: The mayor is a public servant.


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