Yerushalayim Affairs and Heritage Minister Zeev Elkin (Likud) announced on Thursday that he will run in the October election for mayor of the capital.
“Dear residents of Yerushalayim, I have just told the prime minister that I have decided to run as a candidate for Yerushalayim mayor,” he said in a video posted on social media.
“I am willing to give up the position of a senior minister and member of the security cabinet for the sake of Yerushalayim because Yerushalayim is a challenge at a national level of the utmost importance,” he adds. “I ask for your trust and support in the elections.”
Elkin, 47, is currently a resident of Kfar Eldad, south of Yerushalayim.
Born in the Ukraine, Elkin immigrated to Israel at age 19. A member of Knesset since 2006, Elkin first ran with the Kadima party, before moving to the Likud.
Besides his ministerial post, Elkin has gained prominence in recent months as he accompanied Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on trips to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Elkin has served as the prime minister’s translator and advisor on Russian affairs.
Elkin’s candidacy will pit him against City Council member Moshe Lion, who has already announced that he’s running for mayor. In the last election, in November 2013, Lion lost to Nir Barkat by the narrow margin of 51 percent to 45 percent. He subsequently joined Barkat’s faction. Barkat is departing the mayor’s office to run for Knesset on the Likud slate.
Meanwhile, PM Netanyahu has endorsed neither Lion nor Elkin, and is said to be weighing the matter.