Jerusalem mayor joins Likud amid talk of challenging Netanyahu

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said he has joined the Likud party amid rumors that he will challenge Benjamin Netanyahu for its leadership.

“Fifteen years ago, I left my businesses in order to serve Jerusalem, for one shekel per year,” Barkat said in a video posted Tuesday on Facebook. “Out of that same feeling of mission and responsibility for the future of the country, I am joining Likud.”

He also tweeted a similar announcement.

In the video, he called on his supporters to join the party.

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Barkat has three years remaining in his term as Jerusalem mayor, a position he has held for seven years. Prior to that he served in the opposition on the City Council. He said he will not run in the next Likud primary or for a national position until the conclusion of his term.

“Jerusalem is my life’s work. We have work to do, and I will continue serving Jerusalem as mayor,” Barkat said. “In the future, I will make a decision whether to run again or to continue serving the public on a national level. As someone who believes in protecting a united Land of Israel and Jerusalem, strengthening security and shrinking social gaps, I cannot stand aside.”

Barkat supported Likud and Netanyahu in the last national elections, in March.

In recent months, Barkat has hinted that he would one day seek election to the Knesset. His announcement also comes after Netanyahu announced that he would move up the Likud primary to February in a move believed designed to harm opponents.

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