World News

Secular Barkat wins Jerusalem mayoral race: poll

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Secular candidate Nir Barkat on Tuesday won a mayoral election that turned Jerusalem into a political battleground between secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews.

A Channel 1 television poll showed Barkat had gained 50 percent of the vote compared to 42 percent for ultra-Orthodox rabbi Meir Porush.

Palestinians and the international community do not recognize Israeli rule over occupied Arab East Jerusalem and its claim to all of the city as its capital. Turnout in those areas was very low, reports said.

Barkat, 49, a centrist city councilor and high-tech entrepreneur, campaigned on a secular ticket but broadened his appeal to a middle constituency of moderate religious voters.

Secular voters make up some 43 percent of the vote and the middle constituency about 30 percent. Ultra-Orthodox voters were estimated at 27 percent of the electorate.

The Jerusalem vote was among the most significant of some 160 local elections held across Israel on Tuesday ahead of a national parliamentary poll on February 10.

Some 750,000 people live in Jerusalem, including 260,000 Palestinians.

Writing by Ori Lewis; editing by Andrew Roche