Moshe Leon appeared to be winning the race to become the next Mayor of Jerusalem, with with nearly all of the 200,000 votes counted early Wednesday morning.
After leading for most of the night, secular candidate Ofer Berkowitz now trails Leon, the religious candidate, by several thousand votes.
Early in the counting, many were calling the race for Berkowitz who was ahead by more than 10,000 votes. Many had gone to sleep thinking a Berkowitz victory was in the bag. But as the night went on, the numbers swung in Leon’s favor.
With 99.88% of the vote counted, Leon was at 51.5% of the vote, with a lead of about 6,500 votes over Berkowitz.
While Leon’s party was celebrating and declaring victory, Berkovich was refusing to concede, alleging ‘many irregularities’ and uncounted votes of some soldiers.
The vote was the second round after no candidate secured at least 40 percent support in the Oct. 30 vote.
With the incumbent, Nir Barkat, stepping down to run for national office, a quartet of candidates squared off in an ugly campaign to replace him. The runoff featured Leon, a longtime political fixture backed by much of the country’s top leadership,against Berkovitch, a young secular activist pushing a progressive agenda against Chareidim.
Leon, a former director general of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office in the 1990s, had the the support of Degel Hatorah, Shas and others.
Berkowitz had promised to rid the capital of “chareidi extortion” if he was successful in his bid to become the next mayor of Yerushalayim.
HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky got personally involved in the election. He traveled to attend a major Yom Tefillah at the Kosel on Monday, to Daven on behalf of Leon. The Yom Tefilla was attended by more than ten thousand, and was done jointly with Hagaon HaRav Sholom Cohen of Shas.
Today, election day, Hagaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky had the following Tefillah on his Gemara all day:
On Monday, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky wrote a letter to all voters encouraging them to vote leon:
The Chassidim, under the Agudas Yisroel party, adamantly refused to join forces with Degel Hatorah and Shas and vote for Leon. Their candidate took a beating in Yerushalayim in the first round of elections, and refused to come under one unified umbrella with the majority of the Frum voters in Yerushalayim to ensure an easy Leon victory.
They took a beating in the second round as well, with Leon appearing to have won the election. Many are angrily pointing fingers at MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, who convinced the Moetzes of the Agudas Yisroel (Admorim / Chassidim) not to not back Leon.
The Peleg Yerushalmi had internal disagreements whether they should vote for Berkowitz. It interesting to note, that the Chassidim and the Peleg consider Hagaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch their leading Posek, yet they failed to follow his Psak Halacha released on election day which said it is “Yeherag V’al Ya’avor” to vote for Berkowitz”.
At around 1:15AM IL, MK Moshe Gafne visited Rav Chaim Kanievsky, who was where he always is, at his Gemara learning. Upon hearing the news, Rav Chaim asked for some wine, and made “Lechayim”. The attached photos were taken at this event.
Shas MK and Minister Aryeh Deri called Moshe Leon to congratulate him. See attached video:
— Yanki farber (@Farberyanki) November 13, 2018
The headline of Wednesday’s Yated:
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)