Municipal elections will be held throughout Israel on Tuesday, October 30, during which new mayors and members of the city and local councils will be elected.
The final candidates for the Tel Aviv-Jaffa mayoral race are incumbent mayor Ron Huldai (Labor Party), deputy mayor Asaf Zamir, TV presenter Assaf Harel who is backed by Hadash, and deputy mayor and Sephardi Ultra-orthodox Shas party representative Natan Elnatan.
On Wednesday, Zippi Brand Frank (from the list Simu Lev Horim ‒ Parents, Pay Attention) announced that she has withdrawn as a mayoral candidate and is now supporting Zamir, and is running as number two on his list. Thursday, Meretz representative Meital Lehavi quit the mayoral race, but Meretz has refused to join Hadash’s leftist list for the municipal council.
For the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipal council, Hadash is running the following candidates in the new Jewish-Arab leftist list headed by the mayoral contender Assaf Harel: Attorney Amir Badran from the Arab quarters in Jaffa; feminist and anti-racist activist Shula Keshet, head of the municipal committee for the poverty-stricken south Tel Aviv neighborhoods; former Cinematheque director Alon Garbouz; and the well-known labor union advocate Orna Lin.
In Haifa, Hadash is running an Arab-Jewish list headed by journalist Raja Za’atry, head of media at the Arab High Follow-up Committee; Shaira Shalabi, a social-worker and feminist activist; and Dr. Ornat Turin, a lecturer and researcher and activist in the Teachers Union. In Karmiel, in the Galilee, Hadash and Meretz have formed a Jewish-Arab joint list: “Rainbow for Social Justice” (Keshet LeTzedek Hevrati).
For the first time, an all-female list of candidates is contending for slots in Isfyia, an Arab village near Haifa, with the aim of balancing out the gender gap in representation on the city council. The founders of the list, supported by Hadash, decided to bring together a group of women because most of the current council members are men.
Hadash candidates are running in 41 local lists, either independently or in association with other political forces, from Rahat in the south to Ma’alot-Tarshiha in the north, among them are lists for the cities of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Haifa, Nazareth, Umm el-Fahm, Ramla, Lod, Akko (Acre), Sakhnin, Rahat, Nazareth Illit and Karmiel.
In Jerusalem Hadash will support the Meretz list. However, Avi Nissenkorn from the Labor Party, who chairs the largest Israeli trade union federation, the Histadrut, recently announced support for Ze’ev Elkin in the race for mayor of Jerusalem. Elkin currently serves as the Minister of Jerusalem Affairs in Netanyahu’s government and is considered a spokesperson for the extreme right-wing and a settler leader.
Elkin’s candidacy is supported by Prime Minister Netanyahu and by the leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party (HaBait HaYehudi) of Naphtali Bennett, Minister of Education. By supporting Elkin, Nissenkorn is for the first time with openly siding with the nationalist right-wing against Labor and the Left, with which the Histadrut has traditionally been associated. Support for Elkin is simply one further step for Nissenkorn, who has already developed a special relationship with neoliberal Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and the Netanyahu government. In his five years chairing the Histadrut, Nissenkorn has abstained from moral or political criticism of the government, despite corruption charges against Netanyahu and despite the government’s all-out war against the democratic space.
Netanyahu and his allies conduct baseless incitement against artists, journalists, Arab citizens, asylum seekers and civil society organizations. They pass anti-democratic legislation such as the Nation-State Law. Yet the Histadrut has not reacted. The government has discarded any shred of a peace plan and is moving to a military confrontation in the South and the North. Despite all this, not a peep has been heard from the Histadrut Chairman.