Jerusalem’s Barkat, Tel Aviv’s Huldai re-elected in Israeli municipal voting

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The mayors of Israel’s four largest cities, including Nir Barkat in Jerusalem, were returned to office in municipal elections.

Fewer than half of eligible Israeli voters turned out on Tuesday.

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Barkat won 51 percent of the vote to regain office. Turnout in Jerusalem was nearly 36 percent, with most Arab citizens boycotting the poll.

Tel Aviv, Haifa and Rishon Letzion also re-elected incumbents. Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai had 53 percent of the vote.

Elsewhere, Ra’anana voters brought back former mayor Ze’ev Bielski, who served as a Knesset lawmaker for the Kadima party between 2009 and 2013 and also chaired the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization.

In Beit Shemesh, the site of divisive conflicts between haredi Orthodox and secular residents, the Shas-backed incumbent Moshe Abutbul was re-elected.

Sderot Mayor David Buskila, who has been the face of the southern Israeli community in recent years as it was battered by rockets fired from Gaza, lost a close race to Modern Orthodox candidate Alon Davidi.

Voters in three towns re-elected mayors who were accused of crimes. Among them was Bat Yam’s Shlomo Lahiani, who was forced by the Supreme Court on Sunday to resign due to an indictment filed against him.