Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, speaks during his interview with Reuters in his office at the Jerusalem Municipality April 24, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
The Jerusalem Municipality is preparing to operate under emergency measures and is on the verge of firing 2,150 employees, in light of the Finance Ministry’s refusal to transfer budgets to the city, Mayor Nir Barkat said on Monday.
In a press conference at City Hall, Barkat blamed Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon for vetoing every initiative for “fair budgeting of the city of Jerusalem.” The mayor said that despite recent advances in the capital, studies show its budgets have been neglected for years.
“I turned to countless people [to mediate between the municipality and the Treasury]. I demanded that the Finance Ministry and finance minister would deal with the injustice that was done to the city for decades,” Barkat said.
“Two months ago, we pushed a bill that was signed by 51 MKs and would regulate the budgeting of Jerusalem. The finance minister vetoed the bill. A week after that, we tried again to send the bill to the floor, but he vetoed it again,” he added.
“Two weeks ago, some Knesset members initiated a discussion at the Knesset Finance Committee on Jerusalem’s budget. Minister Kahlon then threatened the MKs and prevented the discussion on the crisis.”
Barkat then said Kahlon had, for personal and political reasons, constantly and deliberately sabotaged any effort to provide proper budgets to Jerusalem.
Without an approved annual budget, Barkat said, the municipality is legally obligated to transfer into an emergency mode of operation and carry out cutbacks, affecting most municipal services including education, welfare, culture, sports and community administration.
“I am ready to meet you at any time to solve this painful crisis that will harm the capital of Israel,” Barkat said, referring to Kahlon. “If you keep shutting our ears and heart, you will bear direct responsibility for the fate of hundreds of Jerusalem families who will lose their incomes, and harm the quality of life of 900,000 residents of Jerusalem.”
The comments came one day after the municipality filed a petition with the High Court of Justice against the Finance Ministry, claiming the ministry unilaterally decided not to transfer NIS 105m. to the municipality that it had committed itself to deliver.
On Sunday morning, a group of Jerusalem Municipality workers protested in front of the Finance Ministry, spreading large quantities of garbage at its entrance. The workers also blocked adjacent streets in the capital for several hours.