Zohir Hamdan, the mukhtar (head) of the village of Sur Baher in Jerusalem, has decided to withdraw from the capital's mayoral race, and on Tuesday signed an agreement with billionaire businessman Arcadi Gaydamak, according to which he will serve as the latter's advisor in east Jerusalem matters if Gaydamak is elected mayor.
Gaydamak signed the deal in the hope that it will help him secure the Arab vote in the upcoming elections, as he currently lags in the polls behind lead candidates Nir Barkat and Meir Porush. He has also recently made an effort to appeal to ultra-Orthodox voters.
Hamdan's decision to join the billionaire's roster was startling as he has denigrated Gaydamak in the past. In a previous interview with Ynet the mukhtar said he was unimpressed by the businessman despite his promise to appoint an Arab deputy.
He explained the move to Ynet on Tuesday: "As an Arab and a leader in the eastern part of the city I have my power. I can bring in many votes for my people and for my approach, and I believe Gaydamak will win. Once I signed an agreement with him to be his advisor, I achieved my goal."
Earlier Tuesday Jerusalem's election committee recommended to Gaydamak that he change his name. The reasoning behind this was that the name on his identification card is Aryeh Bar-Lev, and if the
billionaire neglects to alter it, this publicly unrecognized name will be the one to appear on the election ballots.
In order to change his ID Gaydamak will have to apply to the Ministry of the Interior, as the law requires the name on the ballot to match the name on the candidate's certificate of identification.