Capital to expand municipal borders

City expected to incorporate Kibbutz Ramat Rahel.

By MELANIE LIDMAN
May 25, 2011 02:00
1 minute read.
JERUSALEM MAYOR Nir Barkat presents budget

Barkat 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The Jerusalem Municipality is expected to announce new municipal borders on Wednesday, which are expected to expand the city towards the west or the south. The expansion is not expected to be into controversial areas over the 1967 Green Line.

The municipality refused to release details about the expansion before the press conference on Wednesday afternoon, but City Councilor Meir Margalit (Meretz), said he believed the city would be incorporating Kibbutz Ramat Rahel. The kibbutz is a separate entity from Jerusalem, despite being surrounded on two sides by the Jerusalem Municipality.

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The kibbutz is located at the southeast tip of Jerusalem, between the Har Homa neighborhood and Beit Jala.

“What we heard is that it’s Ramat Rahel and not something dramatic, it’s not east Jerusalem so it doesn’t affect politics,” Margalit told the Post. He added that the kibbutz’s agricultural fields could be converted into the nearly 2,000 affordable apartments for young families that the city wants to build in the area.

“It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s cosmetic,” Margalit said of the incorporation of Ramat Rahel. “Jerusalem wants it because they will make more arnona [property taxes], but in terms of politics, it’s just cosmetics,” he said.

The head of Kibbutz Ramat Rahel, Yoram Yair For, denied any knowledge of a plan to incorporate the kibbutz into the city.

Another noncontroversial option is to expand the city toward the west, in the direction of the Jerusalem forest.

The city touted the expansion as an initiative that will partially alleviate the housing shortage in the city, and said there are plans for 1,700 new apartment units in the new area.

The new borders were drawn up in cooperation with the Interior Ministry, and will be announced by Mayor Nir Barkat and Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) on Wednesday.


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