Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90
Minister Zeev Elkin with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin (Likud) on Thursday announced he was running for Mayor of Jerusalem in the coming municipal elections, despite the fact that his request for Prime Minister and Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s support has not been granted.

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“Dear residents of Jerusalem,” Elkin announced on his Facebook page, “I have now informed the Prime Minister that I had decided to run for mayor. I am willing to relinquish the position of a senior government minister and cabinet member for Jerusalem, because Jerusalem presents a national challenge of the utmost importance. I will ask for your trust and support in the elections.”

Rumor has it Netanyahu cherishes Elkin’s help as Russian translator during his visits with President Vladimir Putin, and just doesn’t want to start looking for a replacement.

Moshe Leon, a candidate for Jerusalem Mayor who is supported by Ministers Aryeh Deri and Avigdor Liberman, told Channel 2 News on Thursday: “At the moment I have nothing to say other than that congratulate [Elkin] on joining the race, and may we all enjoy success.”

Obviously, only one candidate will win this one, and so Leon added, “I’m competing to the end,” and repeated, “and may it a success for all of us.”

Leon claimed he did not know who would be the candidate to win the support of Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Earlier this week, Minister Deri suggested a Likud candidate does not stand a chance to win the top post in Jerusalem. Speaking to Radio Kol Chai, Deri noted that in the previous municipal elections Likud only won one City Council seat.

Zeev Elkin was born in 1971 in Kharkiv, then part of the Soviet Union (today the Ukraine), and studied mathematics at the local university. He made Aliyah in 1990 and studied at the Har Etzion Yeshiva until 1995, while at the same time working in the Aliyah Department of the Gesher organization.

Elkin holds a BA in Mathematics from Kharkov University and a MA in the History of the Jewish People from The Hebrew University. He is this close to completing his doctoral thesis on Jews in Islamic Countries in the Middle Ages.

Elkin taught at the Hebrew University’s Department of the History of Jewish Nation and the Department of History, and established the Chase Center for the Study of Jewish Sciences in Russian. In the late 1990s, he was appointed advisor on Jewish Education in Russian to the Director General of the Education Department of the Jewish Agency.

After his election to the 18th Knesset, Elkin served as chairman of the Likud faction and chairman of the Coalition, as well as chairman of the Subcommittee on Judea and Samaria in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, chairman of the Land of Israel Lobby, chairman of the Jerusalem Lobby, chairman of the Higher Education Lobby and chairman of the Lobby for Gush Katif Evacuees.

In the 19th Knesset, Elkin was appointed Deputy Minister, a position he filled until May 2014, when he assumed the position of Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

In the 20th Knesset, Elkin was appointed Minister of Immigration and Absorption, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, and member of the Political-Security Cabinet.

Elkin has moved recently from Kfar Eldad in Gush Etzion to Jerusalem, with his wife and five children, in order to qualify to serve as the capital’s mayor.

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