Leaders of the Agudas Yisroel party in Yerushalayim on Monday ordered their followers to refrain from voting in Tuesday’s mayoral runoff, splitting the charedi vote in a maneuver seen as buoying candidate Ofer Berkovitch over front-runner Moshe Lion.
Lion has the backing of much of the charedi community in the capital and the endorsements of both the Shas and Degel HaTorah factions. Berkovitch, meanwhile, has led the vanguard of the secularist flank of the city with his Hitorerut party.
In the first round of voting on October 30, which sent the pair of candidates to a second contest, Lion received 33 percent of the vote, followed by Berkovitch with 29%. Agudas Yisrael broke ranks with the other ultra-Orthodox groups in the first round of the vote, tapping its own candidate — Deputy Mayor Yossi Deitch — rather than support Lion.
Elections take place from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to announce whether he supports Lion, the former director-general of his bureau, or Berkovitch.