Gaydamak to Drop Mayoral Quest?

From Haaretz:

Russian-born businessman Arcadi Gaydamak is expected to give up on his plans to run for mayor of Jerusalem after former Shas chairman Aryeh Deri announced on Tuesday he is running for the same post.

Even though Gaydamak has not made a final decision, his advisers say Deri’s candidacy would seriously harm Gaydamak’s chances in both the ultra-Orthodox and non-religious communities.

Gaydamak – whom I blogged here, and who has some controversial links with Angola – has recently been pressing a lot of religious flesh in his quest to become mayor; a strange report in Haaretz from a few days ago noted that:

Arcadi Gaydamak, the billionaire candidate for mayor of Jerusalem, met on Monday with the Vatican’s representative in Israel…The meeting was announced on the Web site “Axis Globe,” which American officials have been known to use in order to plant anti-Russian stories. The fact that the meeting took place, and that word of the meeting was leaked to “Axis Globe,” is intriguing. Under the headline, “The Vatican Made Its Choice,” it was noted that Vatican representatives have not met with any other mayoral candidates. In addition, Gaydamak held a meeting with the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theofilos III, who wished him victory in the upcoming election.

“Axis Globe” is slightly mysterious; it uses material from “journalists, ex-diplomats, and former officers of the special services of a number of Asian and East European countries”, some of whom use pen names. The orginal “Axis Globe” report is here, and as well as noting his links to Christian leaders, it adds that

[Orthodox Jewish] leaders already expressed their empathy for Gaydamak during the last year. The most prominent among them were the Rabbi and Member of Parliament (Knesset), Avraham Ravitz, another Rabbi and an even more powerful MP, Yakov Litzman, and one of the most influential spiritual leaders of the Orthodox Judaism, Rabbi Yosef Elyashiv.

…About 225 thousand of Jerusalem citizens practice Sunni Islam, and are concentrated in the Eastern part of the city. As early as in summer – autumn of 2007, Gaydamak established contact with the influential Muslim Sheikhs. He also began to study the problems of the Muslim population and its needs.

Traditionally, the vast majority East Jerusalem Palestinians have declined to participate in Israeli elections; however, a second report adds the claim that:

…the situation that persisted for more than forty years has now started changing rapidly. As the elections come closer, the representatives of the Arab city establishment, of the Palestinian Authority, and even of Jordan royal dynasty that still has a significant influence in Jerusalem, all started direct contacts with one of the candidates for the mayor…With consent of the both sides, the leaders of hundred of most influential families in East Jerusalem are going to meet with Gaydamak next week…One project, for instance, deals with engaging of massive tourism from Muslim States to Jerusalem. Realization of these projects offers the local Arabs a significant financial benefit, as well as a higher status in the eyes of their coreligionists all over the world.