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0202 – Points of View from Jerusalem


"The Embarrassing Saga: The Mayor And the Supposed-to-be New Deputy Mayor

Just before Mayor Barkat was to approve the coalition agreement with the Yerushalmim [1] party, negotiations froze following pressure from Haredi parties. The dispute – municipality-run community activities on Shabbat.

The Yerushalmim party's entry into Mayor Nir Barkat's urban coalition was frozen, following a dispute over Shabbat activities for the secular public in Jerusalem. Head of the Yerushalmim party Fleur Hassan-Nahoum said, '[…] As part of the agreement with the mayor, we sought to broaden cultural events on Shabbat within the bounds of the status quo. In this city, there are different sectors living side-by-side and just as we respect the Haredim, we expect them to respect the secular, traditional, and dati-leumi sectors in the city. We will not work with those who refuse to make room for the diverse, pluralistic public in Jerusalem.'

The mayor's office responded, 'we hope and are moving towards a reachable agreement among the council which would allow the Yerushalmim party entry into the coalition.' […]

Within the agreement developed at the start of the week, the head of Yerushalmim Hassan-Nahoum was supposed to be appointed Deputy Mayor subject to the Ministry of the Interior's approval, a matter known to the other city council members for several weeks. Moments before final approval of the agreement, the negotiations stalled due to disagreements on a number of crucial issues. It seems the path to joining the coalition or remaining outside will be a winding road.

Hassan-Nahoum has since been subject to fiery political criticism not only from the Haredi parties that are against the particulars of the agreement, but especially from the pluralistic factions helmed by Hitorerut [2] and Meretz [3]. This all happened, as stated, less than a year after Yerushalmim left the coalition in opposition to the strike [4] which left trash uncollected around the city for a number of days. According to the coalition's agreement, Hassan-Nahoum was to be appointed Deputy Mayor. […] In a conversation with 'Kol Ha'Ir,' Hassan-Nahoum stated, 'I expected some of these responses, but leadership sometimes means doing things that are less popular.' […]

About the Shabbat activities clause in the agreement, Hassan-Nahoum stated, 'We want to give more to our public, like municipality-run community activities on Shabbat for secular families, sex education classes in schools, and an initiative to provide other means of transportation, such as bike rentals. […] Is it better to be afraid of Hitorerut? Or of what Laura Wharton [5] will say? I am doing something real for my public in the city. I think that we can be very creative within the status quo.'"

-Kol Ha'Ir

0202 Editors' Notes:
[1] Yerushalmim – A pluralistic civilian organization and political party in Jerusalem consisting of secular and religious members. In the past, they have harshly criticized Barkat. Hitorerut and Yerushalmim are in heavy competition over their non-Haredi constituents.
[2] 'Hit'orerut', headed by Ofer Berkowitz, is a local, secular political party representing Jerusalem's younger residents and secular Jews. They resigned from the coalition in November over disagreements with the Mayor.
[3] 'Meretz' is a left-wing political party with seats in Knesset that also has representation on the Jerusalem City Council.
[4] Mayor Nir Barkat, labor unions, and municipal employees held a strike against the national government's 2017 insufficient budget for Jerusalem (which was short over 300 million shekels) in attempts to pressure the Ministry of Finance.
[5] Laura Wharton is a member of Jerusalem's City Council as a representative of Meretz and an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the Hebrew University.

#Jerusalem_Municipality #Politics #Nir_Barkat