(November 14, 2018 / Israel Hayom) Jerusalem City Councilman Moshe Lion narrowly defeated his opponent, fellow councilman Ofer Berkovitch, in the second round of municipal elections for the Jerusalem mayoralty on Tuesday. Lion won 51.5 percent of the votes against Berkovitch’s 48.5 percent.
The two went head to head again after neither succeeded in clinching the minimum 40 percent of the vote needed in the first round of voting on Oct. 30.
Lion was endorsed by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism. Berkovitch was backed by Jerusalem’s secular voters and campaigned for a more “tolerant Jerusalem.”
While the votes of Israel Defense Forces’ soldiers have yet to tallied, they are not expected to impact the outcome of the race.
Speaking afterwards at a victory celebration in the capital, Lion said: “Tonight, Jerusalem chose what unites us, what unifies us and brings us together. I, God willing, intend to be the mayor of all the residents of Jerusalem—those who voted for me and those who didn’t.”
He thanked outgoing Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat for “dedicating 10 years of his life to the city. Complex challenges await us in this special, complicated and amazing city.”
Berkovitch, while not immediately accepting defeat, said: “Secular, religious, everyone won. All of Jerusalem won. No one will take this victory from you. … I am very excited, and it is true that the results are not good right now. I genuinely believe in what we did today. We set the foundations for a new Israeli hope. There are quite a few irregularities and the soldiers’ votes. We will examine the results in-depth.”
Among those who congratulated Lion on his victory were Barkat, who said he wished Lion and the city “great success,” and that he would help in any way he can to make Lion’s entrance into the office as smooth and as fast as possible “to preserve the momentum of our Jerusalem the home of all populations: secular, national religious, haredi and Arab. Good luck, Moshe, good luck Jerusalem!”
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri also spoke to Lion by phone to congratulate him on his win.
Elections were also held in a number of other municipalities, including Ramat Gan, Rishon Letzion, Kfar Saba, Ra’anana, Hod Hasharon, Rosh Haayin, Tzfat and Kiryat Shmona.