Mosche Lion of the conservative ruling party Likud becomes the new mayor of Jerusalem. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ex-director-general won an absolute majority of votes in the second round, Israeli media reported today.
According to preliminary figures of the Ministry of Interior, Lion received 51.5 percent of the vote. His challenger Ofer Berkowitz, candidate of the center, got 48.5 percent.
Challenger protests against election result
Berkowitz initially did not accept the election result, according to media reports. He spoke of irregularities in polling stations. „Our lawyers are checking the results closely,“ the news site Ynet quoted him.
Prime Minister Netanyahu had supported Jerusalem minister Seev Elkin, also a Likud member, in the first ballot two weeks ago. The previous mayor Nir Barkat (since 2015 Likud) was not started after eight years in office.
The status of Jerusalem is one of the central issues in the Middle East conflict with the Palestinians. Israel sees Jerusalem as its capital and claims the whole city for itself. The Palestinians, on the other hand, want East Jerusalem as the capital of their own state of Palestine.