Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat enters national political stage

Tech mogul and current Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat declared his intention to seek a seat in Israel’s parliament as a member of the prime minister’s Likud party.

By: World Israel News Staff

After serving two terms as the mayor of Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, Nir Barkat announced on Sunday that he will not seek reelection. Instead, the 58-year-old former entrepreneur and philanthropist has decided to throw his hat in the ring to become a parliament member representing the Likud party.

Barkat immediately garnered support for his decision from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who commented, “I welcome you with open arms to our movement.” Netanyahu expressed optimism about the opportunity to work with Barkat in the future “for the benefit of the country.”

The upcoming Jerusalem elections appear likely to heat up as a contest between Barkat’s opponent in 2013, Moshe Lion, and Jerusalem Minister and Likud party member Ze’ev Elkin.

While Barkat had recently butted heads with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon over Jerusalem’s budget, the mayor managed to push it through prior to making the announcement regarding his Knesset run. During his tenure as mayor, Barkat has remained relatively popular with the city’s residents.

Barkat served as a major in the IDF reserves and also achieved major success in leadership roles at pioneering Israeli tech firms. The two-term mayor was first elected in 2008.

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Since taking office, Barkat has prioritized raising Jerusalem’s profile by attracting visitors from around the world for events such as the city’s international marathon and Formula One events.

As Israel celebrated the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification last May, Barkat declared, “Jerusalem is booming. We see it in the number and variety of tourists, in the hi-tech sector, cultural renaissance, the tremendous investment in infrastructure for public transportation, new light rails, network cabling, among other things.”