Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Barkat - Next Jerusalem mayor

Haaretz reports:

Secular candidate Nir Barkat declared victory over his Haredi rival Meir Porush in the Jerusalem mayoral election early Wednesday, in a race that again exposed the deep divide between religious and secular Israelis.

With all polling stations reporting in the capital, Barkat won 52 percent of the vote versus 43 percent for Porush. Russian billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak ran a distant third with just 3.6 percent.

In his victory speech, Barkat declared himself the mayor of all Jerusalemites, pledging to work for those who had voted for him as well as those who had voted for other candidates. He added that he would be working for both religious and secular, as well as Jewish and Arab residents of the city.

"I'm aware of the depth of the challenge and the complexity of the mission. Now is the time to work together for the good of the city," Barkat, a technology investor and former paratroops officer, told his supporters.

The race in Jerusalem was one of many that captivated the country as Israelis around the country flocked to the polls for Tuesday's municipal elections, with Arab and ultra-Orthodox voter turnout exceeding expectations.

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