THIS WEEK IN JERUSALEM: Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs

Likud party member Deputy Mayor Elisha Peleg dismissed from Likud party, and children feel like the government has failed them, taking matters into their own hands.

A GROUP of junior high school students are demanding the government fulfill its educational duty to them.  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A GROUP of junior high school students are demanding the government fulfill its educational duty to them.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Deputy Mayor Elisha Peleg has been dismissed from the Likud, following repeated transgression of party rules. It is unclear whether Peleg, the sole Likud representative on the city council, can remain in his position. Peleg has expressed public support for Avigdor Liberman’s party, and has even appeared with him in public events – a step indicating that he wants to obtain Liberman’s political support in the future.
The local Likud branch has been subject to tension and splits since the municipal election campaign a year and a half ago. Then, the support for the candidates was split into two camps – one supporting then-candidate Moshe Lion and one supporting Ze’ev Elkin. After the election, things seemed to calm down, but now, the dismissal of Peleg from the party indicates that things are becoming stormy again. 
Who’s in charge here?
A plan to build a commercial center for the Arab neighborhoods of Sur Bahir and Um Lison near Har Homa is meeting with some opposition from residents, but beyond the conflict between residents and authorities regarding the optimal location for the center is a more fundamental question: Who has the prerogative to promote development plans in the city, the mayor and city council or the Jerusalem Affairs minister? 
Minister Ze’ev Elkin achieved the unprecedented by obtaining a special budget of NIS 2.5 billion for infrastructure, development and improvement of the economy of the east side of the city. The modern commercial center is part of this plan. However, the location chosen for this specific center has raised concern among residents of the nearby Jewish neighborhood, arguing that while they are not opposed to the plan itself, they do not wish to see it carried out so close to their neighborhood. Interestingly, Mayor Moshe Lion does not wish to promote any plan that does not obtain the residents’ agreement. 
What remains to be seen is whether Elkin will agree to change the location of the center or proceed with the plan. And moreover – who decides in Jerusalem? 
Voices of the young
Students from Jerusalem and around the country are angry. Feeling that government has failed them, they want to take responsibility for their future. They seek to lower the voting age, elevate the education system and its programs to the level of Western countries, and stop the too-frequent changes of education ministers, who, they complain, work mostly to promote a political agenda and not in the interest of the next generation. 
This week, a large delegation of this group, who have organized into a political party, appealed to the Supreme Court regarding the age issue and marched in protest toward the Supreme Court building. The new party, called “The Future Generation,” has the support of a teachers’ organization, the Trump Foundation (founded in 2011) and LEAD – the Israel Youth Leadership Development organization. 
Kan means here
It took time to do what was legally required, but this week Kan 11 (the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation) finally moved to Jerusalem, probably due in part to the repeated city council requests. 
This first stage saw about 100 employees move into the new NIS 120 million Givat Shaul Kan premises, whose 7,500 square meters will serve the entire operations, including a new ultra-modern studio from which the results of the coming general elections will be broadcast. Altogether, some 600 employees will work there, many of whom are expected to relocate here to live. 
Bringing government administrations and auxiliaries back to the city was advocated by former mayor Nir Barkat and present head of the opposition in the city council, Ofer Berkovitch (Hitorerut), who strove to convince the government that the various ministries must be located in the capital. Their efforts did not always bear fruit, but Kan’s move into town is certainly a major event. 

Around the Museum
With the Museum of Tolerance scheduled to open soon, the area around it is undergoing renovation – including new street lighting, paving of the nearby streets and a full upgrade of the “Hatulot Square” facing the Museum. The work, which is being planned and executed by Eden, the city’s auxiliary company, is expected to take about eight months. The NIS 5 million price tag is being covered by the museum. 
Schools off the grid
City Council member Dr. Laura Wharton and Hiddush, the nonprofit for religious freedom and equality, filed a petition to the Supreme Court against the Ministry of Education and the Jerusalem Municipality, demanding that they enforce the Compulsory Education Law for tens of thousands of children in the City of Jerusalem, half of whom are ultra-Orthodox and half of whom reside in east Jerusalem, who, according to their findings, are not registered with any officially recognized educational institution. These children of compulsory school age are studying in institutions with inadequate or no medical or sanitary supervision and unapproved teaching methods. Wharton and Hiddush president Rabbi Uri Regev want the Education Ministry of and municipality to take responsibility for these children. 

Schools on the move
For years, school facilities have been allocated to various streams and institutions in line with local demographic changes, such as in Ramot, where the ultra-Orthodox community grew as other residents migrated from the neighborhood. 
Accordingly, three institutions in the public stream – Reut, Adam and Beit Hinuch – are on the move. Adam, presently located on Emek Refaim Street in the German Colony, will move into the present venue of Beit Hinuch, located on Kaf Tet B’November Street, and Beit Hinuch will move into Adam’s venue, thereby answering the need for space for Beit Hinuch’s growing number of students.
A third school that will change its address in September 2020, is Re’ut, which will move from its present location on Eliezer Ha-Gadol Street in Gonen to the Boyar High School compound on the seam between Kiryat Yovel and Bayit Vagan. Some parents have expressed concern that this change will affect the style of the school, as Re’ut is part of the “Meshalev” stream, in which religious and non-religious sturdy together, but do not impose modest dress codes. Jerusalem Parents’ Association president Arik Kaplan allays such fears. 
“Bayit Vagan is not Mea She'arim. I don’t think there will be any such problem, and the move there will be a very good thing for the Re’ut school.” 
Kaplan added that while there is an ongoing dialogue between the association and Manhi, the education administration, he was not informed in advance about these changes. While he welcomes them, he believes that more cooperation and communication would be good for all sides.