Eilat’s Deputy Mayor for the past 18 years, Eli Lankri, was elected on Tuesday night as Mayor of his city. Lankri has served as acting mayor since the former mayor, Meir Yitzhak Halevi, was upgraded to MK in the New Hope party thanks to Norwegian law (which allows ministers to resign from the Knesset, ushering in the next person on their party’s slate – DI).
Lankri, who ran as an independent candidate, but with Sa’ar’s support, was elected by a majority of 44.7% of the votes. He defeated Likud candidate Gabi Kadosh, who received 40.6% of the votes. A total of 13,893 residents voted in the Eilat elections, which is 25.79% of the 55,064 eligible voters in the city.
The mayoral campaign in Eilat became a battle between the two mortal enemies, Likud Chairman and Opposition Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, and the former senior Likudnik who vowed to unseat him, New Hope Chairman and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar.
On Tuesday, Kadosh posted a recording of his telephone conversation with Netanyahu, in which the former PM said he “very much hopes that he will retake his place as mayor soon (Kadosh served as Eilat mayor from 1993 to 2003 – DI).” Kadosh wrote on his Facebook page: “Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also worried about the future of Eilat, crossing his fingers and desperately wanting to win today.”
Sa’ar congratulated the elected mayor on Twitter and attached to the tweet a document signed by the chairman of the Likud secretariat, MK Israel Katz, in which the confrontation between Lankri and Kadosh is described as a direct competition between Gideon Saar’s supporters and Benjamin Netanyahu’s supporters.
Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid also congratulated Lankri.
Lankri, 68, has lived in Eilat since 1962 – when he was a lad of 11.