Newly re-elected Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has lambasted his defeated rival Moshe Lion, the candidate put forward by Aryeh Deri and Avigdor Lieberman.
In a special interview with Israel Hayom's weekend political supplement, Barkat lashed out at those who put forward his rival, saying Lion had lived his entire life in Givatayim.
"This just shows the superficiality of the wheeling and dealing that took place throughout this entire process. I heard that in the beginning Lion wasn't interested. He was a puppet. Truly, a toy in the hands of Deri and Lieberman. This was a shady deal to take control of Jerusalem with a lot of political power brokers involved."
Asked whether Deri and Lieberman came to the elections with the purpose of stealing the city, Barkat responded: "Unfortunately, yes. The main responsibility is on Lieberman's shoulders. They came with impure motives. I felt that I needed to defend Jerusalem from people who wanted to use it and toss it out."
The re-elected mayor claims he felt that he was alone in the struggle.
"I think the national parties need to ask themselves why I was alone in this battle. Because of the primaries structure, most Knesset members were not active before the elections. The fact that I was alone against this shady deal is something I am not sure everyone would be able to deal with."
In response, the Lion campaign issued a statement: "Barkat is a serial election criminal and in the coming weeks it will become clear how he trampled on the campaign finance law and what led the Gur and Belz Hassidim not to support Lion."
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is visiting Rome, telephoned Barkat and congratulated him on his victory.
On Tuesday, Barkat celebrated with his many activists until the early hours of the morning. They presented him with a cake for his 54th birthday. In his victory speech at the Justice Dance Club, a clearly moved Barkat said, "There is a lot of work to do. We must work together so that Jerusalem succeeds. We won a majority, but there is a place for everyone."
Barkat left his victory celebrations at 5 a.m. as his activists sang in the background: "The shady deal did not succeed!" After resting, Barkat arrived on Wednesday to pray at the Western Wall, accompanied by Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch as well as the head of Hameiri Yeshiva, Rabbi Shmuel Zafrani.
On the other hand, Lion, who lost the race, chose to keep a low profile on Wednesday. Lion had announced decisively that he would continue to live in Jerusalem even if he lost the election. But on Wednesday, asked by reporters whether he intended to continue to live in the capital, he hedged. "We'll talk about it," he said quickly, and hurried off.
The setback suffered by Lion is even greater given that the Likud Beytenu party, which backed him, managed to place only a single member in the city council out of 31 members.
Following the setback in Jerusalem, Israel Beytenu chairman Avigdor Lieberman awaits the verdict in his trial in another two weeks.
Following the verdict, Lieberman will decide whether to divide the united Likud-Israel Beytenu list. Nevertheless, the great loser in this battle is Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri, who failed in several places that were strategic from his point of view.
Deri's main failure, aside from Jerusalem, is in the city of Elad, which for the first time will have a mayor who is not from the Shas party. On Wednesday, Deri chose to spotlight his victory in Beit Shemesh, where Shas candidate Moshe Abutbul has been re-elected as mayor.
"We have to do some serious housecleaning," a source within Shas told Israel Hayom. "Elad should have been a cakewalk. There is a failure in how we ran things."
MK Eli Yishai's supporters claimed on Wednesday that in all the places where Deri placed new representatives he failed, while in all the places where Yishai's people remained in place they won.
"It's true that there is a strengthening of Shas all over the country, but in the places where Deri threw his weight around, it was a failure. Why did we need to gamble on an adventure like Lion?" one of Yishai's supporters said.
On Wednesday night Deri hinted that his friend Avigdor Lieberman was to blame, and spoke very critically of Likud Beytenu.
"Unfortunately, Likud Beytenu in Jerusalem failed totally and utterly. They spoke of 40,000 ironclad votes and this did not happen," he said in an interview with Radio Kol Birama.
"Lion was not a gamble of Shas," Deri said, "We were the last to support him. Lieberman, before suggesting Lion, suggested him first to Rabbis Gafni and Porush and Litzman, and afterward came to me."