Netanyahu steps in to halt Jerusalem strike

‘Post’ inquiry to Health Ministry helps lead to cleanup

February 1, 2017 02:37
1 minute read.
PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu responds to the speech given in Washington on Wednesday by Secreta

PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu responds to the speech given in Washington on Wednesday by Secretary of State John Kerry.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Tuesday and asked him to put an end to the municipality strike, which concluded last night. This followed an attempt by Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin to resolve the situation, and even a bid to get President Reuven Rivlin to interfere, before both hostile sides climbed down.

As of Tuesday night, sanitation workers were to begin cleaning up the huge amount of uncollected garbage from the strike – a step Barkat had also been urged to take by Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, for fear of disease spreading. The Health Ministry pressured the mayor to end the strike due to the health risks, after being urged to do so by Jerusalem Post reporter Judy Siegel.

After three days of the strike, with afternoon programs in preschools canceled, municipal kindergartens closed, garbage piling up everywhere and all other municipal services shut down, chaos threatened to engulf the city amid growing anger from the public.

Barkat finally obtained some concessions to stop the strike that has cost him, so far, three members of the city council who resigned from his coalition, a powerful deputy mayor who openly distanced himself and criticized the strike and an unclear pledge by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to find adequate solutions to Jerusalem’s budget problems.

No one speaks about the NIS 800 million deficit that drove Barkat to this move.

For the moment, Barkat has been invited to be a guest at next Sunday’s cabinet meeting and has been offered a vague promise to answer the needs of the capital’s educational system. It is also unclear whether Interior Minister Arye Deri’s bid to appoint a Treasury accountant to supervise the city’s chief accountant is still relevant.

“Barkat didn’t have to climb up that tree,” declared Aaron Leibowitz, president of the Yerushalmim Party.

The party was founded by MK Rachel Azaria, a member of the Kulanu Party formerly led by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who resigned from the Knesset in 2016 but retained his ministry.

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