Points of Views
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0202 – Points of View from Jerusalem


"The First Station – The True Story

Remember the city council vote a few days ago, regarding the First Station [1]? It was held following the appeal of Yohanan Weizmann of the United Torah Judaism party [2]/

How? What?

The First Station is located on public land that belongs to the State and the Jerusalem Municipality was granted usage rights until 2026. During the municipality's previous term, a special permit was granted allowing the First Station to be used for culture and leisure purposes. (This permit was later shortened to last only until to 2019).

What happened then?

The neighbors appealed, the local committee convened, but the permit was approved nonetheless. But, a council member may appeal a decision of the local committee and bring the matter to the general committee for deliberation – which is actually the city council.

What happened a week ago? That is exactly what Weizmann did, he appealed!

So, what did they actually vote on?
They voted on repealing the municipality’s approval of the current usage of the compound which has nothing to do with the Sabbath [3].
It seems the motive is to close the compound on the Sabbath, but the way to achieve that is by causing the municipality to remove its signature of approval from the special permits.
The results:
15 for the decision
10 against the decision
0 abstaining

Wait! Did this vote mean anything? Or was it a political tool used by different sides?On the one hand, the results of the vote, and the actions of the secular parties have little meaning because the final decision belongs to the planning and building committee. On the other hand, because of the results, the committee will make its decision without the municipality supporting the use of First Station as a cultural and leisure space. Rather, the opposite, with the municipality's recommendation to reject a renewal of the permit. Maybe this will have some meaning. Maybe…

What now?
The municipality’s signature is removed from the usage licenses of the compound. So whose signature is on the permits? Israel Railways! [The company] who, in the past, had rights of usage over the land (which used to be a train station), an organization that deals with infrastructure and can rightfully submit plans for approval.

What can be expected?
Yohanan Weizmann and his friends believe that the plan will be approved by the district committee.
So, what did Yohanan actually achieve?
a. Declaratively, the municipality isn’t the one approving or recommending a plan that includes commercial and cultural activities on the Sabbath.
b. The ability to reach agreements regarding the manner of activities that happen on the Sabbath in the future.
c. The local committee or city council can appeal to the national council etc.

Anyway, the compound currently has a permit for special use (functioning as something other than a train station) until March 2019, so everything stays the same until then.
Thank you Itai Gutler, Jerusalem city council member, for your help in putting this post together.
Thank you for listening!"

– Jerusalemite FB Group

[Selected Comments:]
– "So what? It’s possible to vote for closing it on the Sabbath. Where’s the true story here?"
– "[…] This vote is a wake-up call to the seculars in the city."
– "They simply want to push us out."

0202 Editor's Notes:
[1] התחנה הראשונה ירושלים – The First Station Jerusalem is a historic train station near the Germany Colony neighborhood that was restored and transformed into a culture and entertainment center. Many of the restaurants and shops are open on the Sabbath, angering Haredi politicians and residents. This past Wednesday evening, Jerusalem's municipal council voted to close the First Station on the Sabbath.
[2] United Torah Judaism is a Haredi political party comprised of Degel Hatorah and Agudat Yisrael. Degel Hatorah (lit. Banner of the Torah) is guided by the Rabbis of non-Hasidic Ashkenzai yeshivas. Agudat Yisrael (lit. Union of Israel) represents Hasidim in Israel. Yohanan Weizmann is a Jerusalem councilman and member of the Agudat Yisrael faction.
[3] Shabbat, or Sabbath, (Saturday) is the Jewish holy day of the week. It’s practice in the public sphere in Israel is continuously debated within Israeli Jewish society.

For a previous post on this topic see: https://bit.ly/2IFHRqy

#Sabbath #Jerusalem_Municipality #Secular_Jews #First_Station