Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat won a second term in a dramatic campaign against challenger Moshe Leon, who was backed by two national political figures.
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Barkat garnered 51.1 percent of the votes in Tuesday's municipal elections, while Leon collected 45.3 percent.
Voter turnout in Jerusalem was lower than in previous local elections at just below 38 percent.
"This race was not easy at all," Barkat said in his victory speech. "It was one of the hardest, most complicated races that you, me – everyone – had ever seen." Barkat called on all council factions to join his coalition.
"Tonight I want to embrace the people of Jerusalem and send out a message that we need to join forces, including with those who worked against us," he said.
Despite his victory, Barkat will have to deal with a difficult city council, as the ultra-Orthodox factions grew stronger.
"I didn’t come here seeking a job," Leon said, who accepted defeat at about 2:30 A.M., "but I love the city of Jerusalem." Leon refused to take questions from journalists.
Backed by MKs Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) and Aryeh Deri (Shas), Leon hoped to take Jerusalem from secular Barkat, by forming a large Haredi bloc that would support him.
Despite campaign promises that he would stay in Jerusalem event if not elected mayor, Leon announced that he will be returning to Givatayim to head his accounting firm.
In Tel Aviv, incumbent mayor Ron Huldai received 53 percent of the votes compared to 38 percent for challenger MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) and Aharon Meduel with 6 percent.
"As of tomorrow morning, I am everybody's mayor," Huldai, who already serves for 15 years, said as the results were in. "Everyone in Tel Aviv-Jaffa is a resident of Tel Aviv-Jaffa," he said, regardless of social-economic status, religion or habits.
Incumbent Ramat Hasharon Mayor Itzik Rochberger and Bat Yam Mayor Shlomo Lahiani, both of whom had been dismissed from their positions by the High Court of Justice over criminal charges yet still were permitted to run for a next term, secured notable victories in their municipalities (56% for Rochberger and 58% for Lahiani).
Upper Nazareth Mayor Shimon Gapso, who also faces indictment for bribe-taking, won the election in his city as well.
According to the High Court ruling, these mayors could be disqualified again even after having won the election.