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Leaders of anti-reform protests to run in local elections

Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Hod Hasharon, Ra'anana, and Rehovot will see opponents of judicial reform compete.

Workers at the Central Elections Committee warehouse in Shoham prepare ballot boxes for Israel's Nov. 1 national election, Oct.12, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Workers at the Central Elections Committee warehouse in Shoham prepare ballot boxes for Israel's Nov. 1 national election, Oct.12, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

The protest movement against the Netanyahu government’s judicial reform program is attempting to transform itself into a democratic political force, running candidates under the name “New Contract” in municipal elections set for Oct. 31.

“New Contract” representatives will compete in the cities of Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Hod Hasharon, Ra’anana and Rehovot.  

Dana Oren-Yanai, one of the main movers of the Herzliya protests, who already serves on the city council, summed up the protesters’ growing desire for political control:

“About seven months ago, the liberal and democratic public in Herzliya woke up. Since then we have all been working without a moment’s rest for a Jewish and democratic Israel. And now we are coming together to form a joint list for the city council—from protest to influence!” she said.

“[It’s] the way that will allow us—activists in the fields of education, community, women, culture, neighborhoods and more—to take our personal and professional toolbox and represent the liberal camp in the city council,” Oren-Yanai added.

National political tensions have spilled down to the municipal level to drive apart established parties that sometimes cooperate on the local level such as Yesh Atid and Otzma Yehudit, which have declared that they won’t work together in municipal elections.

Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid was the first to declare a boycott. “Our mission is to build local coalitions with liberal representatives who will maintain the local government as a strong bastion of liberal democracy,” he said.

National Security Minister and Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben-Gvir responded in kind on Monday, instructing his people not to make coalition deals with local Yesh Atid members.

Meanwhile, former Israeli consul general to New York Assaf Zamir announced a joint run with incumbent Ron Huldai in the Tel Aviv City Council race.

“There’s a lot to do in the city, and many challenges are about to open. I truly and sincerely believe that together we can continue to lead the city forward, protect it as a liberal beacon in Israel, lighting up the darkness and marking the right direction,” Zamir said on his Facebook page.

Zamir resigned his post in March after Netanyahu sacked Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, (it would turn out temporarily), who called for a halt to the judicial reform program due to the social rifts it was creating.

“The political situation in Israel has reached a critical point, and I feel a deep sense of responsibility and moral obligation to stand up for what is right and fight for the democratic values that I hold dear,” Zamir wrote in his resignation letter.

“Today’s dangerous decision to fire the minister of defense convinced me that I can no longer continue to represent this government.”

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